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Gee & Ursula: What can the state do instead of a rollback to Phase 2?

A sticker on the ground reminds people to stay distanced from others in line and wear masks. (MyNorthwest photo)

Three counties have now been rolled back to Phase 2 of reopening, despite state business organizations have urging Governor Inslee to delay the decision for several weeks. On Friday, the governor warned that the choice was out of his hands.

“This is not judgment day Monday,” he said. “The score is the score. This score is determined by the COVID virus, not us.”

Gov. Inslee announces Phase 2 rollback for three counties

For the counties rolling back — Cowlitz, Pierce, and Whitman counties — that means most businesses will have to reduce capacity from 50% to 25% by Friday.

“Don’t do it,” KIRO Radio’s Gee Scott said, shortly before Inslee made the announcement on Monday. “Don’t do it. Governor Jay Inslee — you, your people, whoever is listening right now. Hey, COVID, we’ve been going through it for a little over a year. The number of cases, have they gone up a little bit? Sure, they have.”

“And you’re talking about what’s the score and all those things, well, there are some times when there’s a game going on and you’re talking about the impact of the score. The scoreboard doesn’t always tell the story of what’s really going on, and if you got your ear to the streets like the Gee and Ursula show does, you would know that there are a lot of people that are doing the best that they can,” Gee added.

The decision to roll back impact the people, especially the struggling business owners, Gee says.

“Sure, COVID is real. Sure, we need to get vaccinated. Sure, we do need to follow proper protocols,” he said. “At the same time, what we don’t need is for businesses to roll back, for jobs to roll back, for the economy, the local economy, to roll back. Can’t happen. Not now.”

Host Ursula Reutin agrees with Gee but is concerned about what would happen if the state gets to the point where hospitals are full again and cases are out of control.

“Because, again, we have these variants, we are getting more people vaccinated but not fast enough, and people are letting their guard down,” Ursula said. “You say, well, everyone’s doing the best they can. But are they really?”

Gee says the majority of people are doing the best they can, as are the majority of businesses. The latter part of that, Ursula agrees with, noting that she’s seen what restaurants are doing to keep safe.

“But the reality is when you’re at a restaurant, and I was just at one yesterday. Now I do have both vaccines, but I was just at one yesterday,” she said. “The simple fact is you do have to have your mask off for a certain amount of time. So there have to be other ways to mitigate this.”

“And I’m hoping that we don’t have to shut down restaurants, stores, and gyms, and maybe it’s, hey, these bigger companies that have been doing OK — the Microsofts of the world and the other companies that maybe are … looking at returning their employees, maybe you don’t, maybe you stay, you know, keep people working from home. But just because we don’t want to or we’re tired of it, I think it’s hard to to just say, well, we can’t do anything because we’re just done with it.”

So instead of a rollback, Gee said he would recommend that Gov. Inslee hold a news conference and be honest with the people of Washington that cases are going up.

“Let us know about hospitalizations,” Gee said. “Let us know are the deaths going up? Because the deaths are not going up. But there are people that have still lost their lives. And I want to be empathetic towards that. My thoughts and prayers go out to those families.”

But at the same time, Gee does not think a rollback will help the state right now.

“I’m not trying to say that, but I’m asking the question: What else do you do?” Ursula replied. “If we continue to go in this direction, … are we at the point that you just say, let’s do what Florida is doing and you just open it up, don’t worry about it, it’s going to do what it’s going to do?”

“We do worry about it,” Gee said. “… But the problem with COVID is it’s not eradicated yet. It’s here. It’s literally here.”

Virologist explains how KIRO Radio’s Gee Scott still got COVID after first vaccine dose

Gee has COVID and is close to the end of his quarantine period. He admits that he made a mistake and let his guard down, but says everyone has to do better, himself included, to reduce cases.

“I think that all of our listeners, whoever, I think we know what we have to do, we know what we need to be doing,” he said.

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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