Gov. Inslee defends mandates to Congress: ‘No intervention is as important as vaccination’

Jan 21, 2022, 5:22 AM | Updated: 5:24 am
Gov. Inslee...
Gov. Inslee testifies remotely before the U.S. House COVID committee about the state's response and lessons learned. (Photo courtesy of Gov. Inslee's Office)
(Photo courtesy of Gov. Inslee's Office)

Two years after the first U.S. coronavirus case was confirmed in Washington state, Governor Jay Inslee testified in front of federal lawmakers on the effectiveness of the state’s COVID response.

Watch video of the panel here.

Washington was the first state in the nation to be hit with COVID: The first case was recorded on Jan. 21, 2020, with the first death coming nearly a month later on Feb. 29. To date, the state has seen nearly 10,000 COVID-linked deaths.

In his testimony to a U.S. House Select Subcommittee, the governor defended vaccines as the best defense against COVID.

“Ultimately, no intervention is as important as vaccination,” Inslee said Thursday. “Since the rollout of vaccines began in December of 2020, we have made great strides in getting our population vaccinated and we remain one of the highest vaccinated states in the nation.”

The governor attributed that vaccination rate specifically to mandates. He pointed out that, since August, before the mandates took effect, “the vaccination rate among our state workforce has nearly doubled.”

“By making it a condition of employment, that has increased our vaccination rate from 50% to 96%.”

“This includes over 28,000 state workers who became vaccinated since the requirement was announced, resulting in thousands of saved sick days, and many avoided hospital stays,” he continued.

King County COVID cases finally trending down, but ‘we’re not out of the woods yet’

He prefaced those remarks with an emphasis on making his COVID response decisions with public health data foremost in mind.

“We decided to follow science and the data and our public health experts, and to be very vocal against the profoundly malicious efforts to not spread the truth about this vaccine that have been so damaging,” Inslee said.

“We made a valued decision that saving lives was our first priority and it should remain unwavering.”

“If you compare our success to other states, we’ve saved more than 17,000 lives,” he added. “These people are still with us because Washingtonians are working together to stay safe and healthy.”

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Gov. Inslee defends mandates to Congress: ‘No intervention is as important as vaccination’