Rantz: WA doesn’t track outdoor COVID transmission, King County can’t point to one case
Washington State does not track outdoor transmission rates of the coronavirus. Seattle and King County Public Health can’t point to a single verified instance of outdoor transmission. Yet we have rules mandating our behaviors outside.
Governor Jay Inslee said he would base his COVID decisions on science and data. The Washington Department of Health tracks COVID in restaurants, gyms, and grocery stores. They used that data to justify closing down businesses or mandate mask use.
But what about parks, which at one point were closed? What about closely monitored outdoor trails? The state never tracked the data on outdoor transmission, yet Governor Jay Inslee’s dizzying and inconsistent rules mandate outdoor masks in various circumstances, including when surrounded by vaccinated people.
Washington doesn’t track outdoor COVID transmission
Inslee repeatedly promised that science and data would guide his COVID mandates from the pandemic’s start.
That was apparently the case when he closed our massive state parks and public lands. He even shuttered our boat ramps, banning individuals from recreational fishing, even if alone in a boat. Think Inslee had access to alarming data showing the outdoor transmission rate in Washington was somehow trending higher than everywhere else? He did not.
The DOH does not track outdoor transmission. Why? It’s too hard.
“Our ability to pinpoint exactly where COVID-19 is being transmitted in our communities is limited,” a spokesperson from DOH told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “When we interview cases, it is often extremely difficult to determine with certainty where the individual was infected. People often have more than one potential exposure, and they may not remember all their activities in the 14 days before becoming ill or may not want to share all their activities with us.”
People can’t remember visiting a park, going for a hike, or visiting a beach? Yet, the investigations have been used to justifying shutting down businesses.
“With limited data on where transmission is occurring in Washington, we rely on the science around how this virus is spread,” a spokesperson with DOH tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.
But the science has been clear. Inslee? Not so much.
Seattle-King County Public Health can’t point to one outdoor transmission
Seattleites continue to wear masks outdoors, even when nowhere near another person. Can Public Health point to a single known instance of outdoor transmission of COVID? No.
“In outbreak investigations, the possible exposures are often complicated and may involve both indoor and outdoor interactions,” a spokesperson for Public Health tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “For example, an outbreak connected with a soccer club could conceivably point to outdoor transmission during play, but it could also (and more likely) implicate the locker room or the bus or the postgame party.”
In other words, because they can’t prove it didn’t happen outdoors, they won’t rule outdoor transmission out. The science, of course, points to indoor transmission.
“Many of the outbreaks local public health has investigated have been in healthcare settings, congregate settings, worksites and large social gatherings — many of which clearly are in indoor settings where risk is greater,” the spokesperson continues. “But given the uncertainty in the exact point of transmission, and because we do not investigate all cases, it would be inaccurate to say there have been no cases of outdoor transmission.”
I’m sure there have been rare cases of outdoor transmissions. The global data indicates it’s possible — but extremely rare. So rare it does not justify wearing masks outdoors, especially if you’re fully vaccinated.
Stop ignoring the science on outdoor transmission
The science on outdoor transmission continues to be clear, so long as you use data outside of Washington.
A review in The Journal of Infectious Diseases shows a low rate out of outdoor transmission. One study even put the outdoor transmission rate below 1%. And the New York Times on Tuesday morning noted the “share of transmission that has occurred outdoors seems to be below 1 percent and may be below 0.1 percent.”
It’s exceptionally rare in large part due to fresh air and wind dispersing the virus. The sun’s ultraviolet light is also believed to kill the virus, which is why scientists believe the summer months slow the spread.
Yet Inslee wears a mask outdoors. He is fully vaccinated.
Inexplicably, while telling Washingtonians to “take it outside” at an outside press conference, Inslee needlessly donned a mask. He was even socially distanced. Inslee faced no risk of COVID.
At the same time, Inslee has approved vaccinated-only sections at events. His guidance allows vaccinated adults and COVID-negative youngsters to sit in certain outdoor venues, yet they have to wear masks. There is no science to back this up.
Then there are the Seattleites who think they’re heroes by not just walking with masks on while outside, but giving the stink eye to those of us who are vaccinated, distanced, and walking without a mask. Get over yourselves. You’re the foolish ones.
Their excuse? It’s too hard
The excuse from the state and King County is that it’s just too hard to track outdoor transmission. I have no doubt it’s hard.
Do you know what else is hard? For a business to follow onerous rules from the state while staying afloat. Yet they’re doing just that. They’re struggling, but have no sympathy from Inslee, of course.
If the state is coming up with rules that drive our very ability to live free, it should do the work — hard as it might be — to find the data they use to create its mandates.
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