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Gov. Inslee extends pause of reopening phases in Washington state

Gov. Inslee is extending the pause of phases until at least July 28. (TVW)

Gov. Inslee announced Tuesday that the pause on reopening will remain in place until at least July 28. This means that no counties will advance forward in the Safe Start phases until the end of the month, at the earliest.

Inslee also said people should not be surprised if reopenings are rolled back during the course of the pandemic. The decision to move backward will be determined by personal behaviors, Inslee said, including wearing masks and following social distancing rules. The governor warned that Washington state has to face the “brutal truth” that the pandemic is still raging across the state.

“We’ve paid too dear a price to allow us to withdraw from this threat,” Inslee said.

Rate of new COVID-19 cases in Washington now exceeds March peak

The sacrifices that have been made by residents, families, and businesses statewide can not be for nothing, the governor added.

In good news, the latest survey in Yakima County indicated that 95% of people are wearing face coverings in public spaces. The case numbers in Yakima are also improving, though this does not mean that it’s time to let up on our masking and social distancing measures, Inslee clarified.

“That’s good news, and if we keep this up, there’s reason to believe we’re going to be in better shape,” he said.

While Inslee recognizes that Washington state is currently not as bad as some other states in increasing case counts and hospitalizations, he noted that, “we have to look where we’re going to be, not just where we are.”

“We can’t overstate how important this moment is in the course of this pandemic,” he said.

Both Inslee and Kathy Lofy with the state Department of Health acknowledged that there has been an increase of cases in younger populations in recent weeks. While the younger age groups are not typically at a high risk of hospitalization or death due to COVID-19, they do impact the community as a whole. The virus can easily be transmitted from anyone, at any age, to older or more vulnerable populations who could be hospitalized and are at risk for more serious infections.

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Inslee said residents need to do everything they can now in order to slow down the rate of spread.

“You can drown with the tide coming in if you don’t move, even though it’s really slow, just as much as you can with a big, instant wave,” Inslee said. “And that’s the situation we’re looking at is an incoming tide, in my view.”

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