OLYMPIA, Wash. — Gov. Jay Inslee announced Washington's stay-at-home orders will extend past May 4.
Inslee said the state is not ready to fully reopen. He said more information will be released on Friday about the phases that the state will reopen.
"We do not want to go through this pain again. We want to make this a one and possibly done situation, that we then can restrain this virus with testing and contact tracing," he said. "The fundamental principle we're following is let's just do this once. It's much better to be disciplined now with this approach rather than have erratic steps at a later date."
He said that some non-urgent surgeries, such as joint replacements, will soon be allowed.
He said while coronavirus deaths and hospitalizations were declining in April, but the numbers are not low enough to ensure that those numbers will continue to decline.
"We are still not at the level that we can be confident that if we release our social distancing these numbers will not begin to go up as well," he said.
"We've seen some progress but we're not where we need to be," he added.
The governor will be joined by Vice Admiral Dr. Raquel Bono, director of Washington state COVID-19 health care response, Dr. Kathy Lofy, state health officer and Katherine Guest, deputy intelligence section chief for the Washington State Emergency Operations Center.
Inslee shared the data that the state is using to analyze the state’s response.
“There is no one number that any of us can hang our hat on to make an independent decision based on one number,” he said.
Some of the data include:
- While the state has the capacity to do 22,233 tests a day, Inslee said the actual capacity has been limited by availability of testing materials, such as swabs and testing medium. “We have to have increased testing material,” Inslee said. “We have scoured the globe on a daily basis.”
- There will be 1,500 case investigators for contact tracing by May 11, including 700 members of the Washington National Guard, to track down, test and take care of others who have been in contact with a person who tests positive.
- The state is monitoring capacity to isolate patients throughout the state, either in their homes or in alternative settings.
- The demographic data on patients show that coronavirus impacts Hispanic community harder than other communities, in terms of the number of positive cases. Of cases where the ethnicity and race of the patient is available, 30% of patients are Hispanic, which is a greater proportion than the population. Of all cases, including those where the race and ethnicity was not recorded, 2,640 out of 13,942 coronavirus patients — or about 19% — are Hispanic. Inslee said while there are a number of factors involved, the state is working with the agricultural industry on providing standards that will reduce the risk of transmission.
- There are just under 1,000 beds that could be available in case the coronavirus numbers bounce back up. There are 848 ventilators available. “Because we’ve been successful, we’ve been able to send back ventilators to the federal government," Inslee said. "This is a testimony… to the diligence of Washingtonians who have abided by the social distancing strategy. Washingtonians ought to be proud that we’ve kept people out of the hospital because we’ve made decisions about not exposing ourselves to this virus.”
- The state has received 3 million pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) from the federal government, and 2 million from private donations, including businesses that have donated their supplies. But he says the state needs much more.
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The extension of the stay home orders past May 4 was not unexpected. On Monday, Inslee announced a partial reopening of state lands starting on May 5.
"This is a data-driven decision," Inslee said. "If this virus were to spring back, we might have to roll back some of these measures again which is the reason we have to remain disciplined in how we enjoy the great outdoors."
Public gatherings, team sports, and camping, among other things, are not allowed at this time, Inslee said.
Inslee said that while the state has been loosening the restrictions in the Stay Home Stay Healthy order, the data show that the state would not be ready to drop social distancing by next week.
Last week, Gov. Inslee announced that low-risk construction could resume in Washington, marking one of the first steps the state is taking to slowly reopen the economy.
"We are a long ways from the end of this virus, and we are going to have to maintain plenty of restrictions after May 4," he said.