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Gov. Inslee announces 10-person limit on social gatherings

As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise across the state of Washington, Gov. Inslee announced a change Thursday to the limits on social gatherings. Counties in Phase 3 must limit social gatherings to 10 people or less, reduced from a previous limit of 50.

For counties in Phase 2 or a modified Phase 1, which is most of the state, social gatherings must continue to be limited to five people or less.

The governor and secretary of health also announced a prohibition on all live entertainment, indoor and outdoor, which includes drive-in concerts, comedy clubs, and music at restaurants.

Inslee warned that today’s roll backs may be a forerunner for future roll backs. These are not yet decisions that have been made, but will be examined if the current trends continue.

While there are problems in the state, Inslee said, the good news is that these problems can be largely addressed by individual actions and restraint.

“How individuals respond to this crisis will determine what happens to all of us, combined,” Inslee said.

Every individual can take actions to reduce the spread of this pandemic by continuing to wear masks, social distancing, and limiting interactions in general.

“We don’t have a vaccine, but we do have each other,” he added.

Recent research indicates that COVID-19 is mostly spreading at social gatherings and in face-to-face meetings. Actions that were once benign, innocent, and healthy, Inslee recognized, are now dangerous.

“Today, what used to be a birthday party could be a death sentence for somebody,” Inslee said.

The new limits on social gatherings take effect Monday, July 20.

Community transmission in Washington must drop if schools are to reopen

Inslee also reported Thursday that the seven-day rolling average from June 26 to July 2 is 629 cases per day, which is the highest rate since the pandemic began. Cases have also continued to rise consistently for the last month in Washington, and the rate of increase is quite significant. Hospitalizations and deaths across the state have also gone up in recent weeks, Inslee noted.

“This shows that too many individuals … are simply not exercising the caution that is necessary if we are going to arrest the dangerous rise of this pandemic,” Inslee said.

Inslee emphasized that we do not want to see infection rates in Washington state like Texas and Arizona are seeing now. If the current trends continue, Washington will be in a similar situation to those states, the governor said.

If we are disturbed by the scenes we’re seeing in those southern states, Inslee says, then we have to find another strategy or additional strategies to stop the pandemic from spreading.

Gov. Inslee also emphasized that limiting the number of people we socialize with does not remove the imperative need to continue the measures of wearing masks and social distancing from others.

“We can not let our guard down, even as we engage in more activities,” he said.

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