Gov. Inslee says Washington’s plateau in COVID cases is ‘very worrisome’
Over the last couple of months, COVID cases and hospitalizations in Washington have declined. However, Gov. Jay Inslee said in a press conference Thursday, “they still remain very high.”
“Unfortunately, the recent week or two, we’ve experienced a plateauing of the numbers rather than a decline,” Gov. Inslee said. “This is very worrisome.”
On average, the governor says, there are still more than 2,000 cases reported each day statewide.
“We know many are suffering due to this pandemic, including those who now are still in the waiting line to get elective surgery because our hospitals remain stressed, with high occupancy rate, as much as 90%,” he said. “Most systems are just now getting back to trying to do elective surgery.”
If case counts and hospitalizations were to rise again, besides the inevitable death and disability of COVID-19, Inslee says, there will also be people who are unable to get surgeries and care they need.
“We still have an extremely dangerous pandemic on our hands,” he said.
As Inslee sees it, Washington has reached a fork in the road.
“Are we going to accept COVID, allow it to continue to run wild, or are we going to continue to fight it? That’s a definite decision for the state of Washington,” he said. “Every day, I believe we should fight it. We should not surrender to it. We should continue our efforts to utilize this life-saving vaccine. We know we have the tools to beat this virus, and we ought to use them.”
Gov. Inslee did say that the state has made real progress in vaccinations, and he could “not be more delighted in the progress we’ve made with public employees becoming vaccinated.”
Looking ahead, Inslee says he does not have a crystal ball and can’t predict the course of the virus.
“We are hopeful that more people will get vaccinated and we will not experience a sixth wave,” he said. “But today I’m very concerned about experiencing a sixth wave this winter as people are coming indoors, becoming more exposed to transmission as they come closer indoors.”
As to whether or not there could be a COVID vaccine mandate statewide — similar to what is now in effect in King County — the governor says that doesn’t make sense for the state at this time. There is, however, a statewide vaccine requirement for large events, which was announced a couple of weeks prior and will take effect in mid-November.
“We’ve not added [vaccine verification] to restaurant activities at that date because we don’t think, at the moment, that makes sense for the state of Washington,” Inslee said. “But we’re looking at the experience of King County to see if it’s positive, and we’ll continue to monitor that situation.”