OLYMPIA, Wash. — Governor Jay Inslee connected with Washingtonians via Twitter Thursday to answer their questions about the coronavirus and the state's response to slow the spread of the virus.
Residents were able to ask Gov. Inslee a question and he responded with a short video on his Twitter feed. Below are five of the top questions asked.
Question: What would you say to people who are distancing in terms of avoiding public places but are still visiting non-household family and friends #AskGovInslee - @KristaSueBar
Answer from Governor Inslee: “You have put your finger on something that’s really important. Because if you have friends or relatives that are practicing social distancing when they’re sort of in public, maybe even the workplace, but then they have friends over, maybe sitting around the dinner table real close to them, or maybe you’re a grandparent going and wrestling with the grandkids… That is every bit as fatal and you can spread the disease just as much. So, we have to do social distancing in our homes as well as in our businesses as well as in the places we go by groceries. And if we do this, we’re going to minimize the loss of life and everybody has control over this part of our lives. You have control in your home. So don’t expose yourself to infection, or your loved ones unnecessarily. If you’re going to have social interactions, we can do it electronically. You can go on walks but stay six feet apart. If we do this, we’re going to be safe. Protect yourself, protect everybody.”
Governor Inslee issued a stay-at-home order on March 23 that's in effect for two weeks. Under the order, people are only supposed to leave their homes for "essential business," such as work or grocery shopping.
Question: Will you please institute a mandate requiring no rent payments due for April? Many of our constituents are unemployed, unable to find a job, and/or laid off due to COVID. This is an unprecedented time & requires an immediate, co… #AskGovInslee - @sarasuryan
Answer from Governor Inslee: “We know these are tough times for a lot of renters and no one should be dispossessed of their home while we’re in the middle of this crisis. That’s why I took strong measures early. I put a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent, so no renter can be thrown out of their home or apartment now for non-payment of rent. I did that through my emergency powers as Governor. Going forward, I will not be shy about continuing that in the right circumstances. Now, further actions might require legislative approval. I may not have emergency authority, but I’m going to keep you in mind because we’ve got to keep people housed while we go through this. It is an expectation that I have and I’ll look for people to help me with it if I need to.”
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan enacted a 60-day moratorium on residential evictions on March 3 as the coronavirus outbreak grew. On March 18, Inslee followed suit, enacting a 30-day moratorium for the rest of the state.
In Seattle city limits, renters are protected from evictions for both non-payment and other non-compliances during this crisis. And landlords also can't charge you late fees that would have accrued from not paying.
Question: Any updates on WA Schools? I am a high school senior and I am worried about graduation and other events and I just want to prepare. Thank you for your hard work and great leadership. #AskGovInslee - @SydneeAdams_
Answer from Governor Inslee: “We’re glad you’re looking forward to graduation, and we think there’s good reason that will happen and you’ll have a bright future. Right now, we don’t have specific changes to the situation where schools are not having instruction in the buildings, but many schools are providing opportunities remotely. We hope you can avail yourself of that, and we hope that learning continues so you can have a bright future."
On Monday, all Washington private and public schools started teaching students remotely. Universities also moved classes online in the wake of the coronavirus.
Question: Does anyone know when basic supplies like toilet paper, rubbing alcohol, rubber gloves, hand sanitizer, etc. will be available again in downtown Seattle grocery & drug stores? Are manufacturers able to catch up with demand? #AskGovInslee - @MTaylorCanfield
Answer from Governor Inslee: “There’s some good news here. Actually the supply chain is very robust and solid right now. It’s providing the same level of products as it has before the virus bit us. The problem is that people are just buying a lot more because they’re kind of hoarding it in very abnormal shopping patterns. That’s why we have some empty shelves right now. So if we can all just kinda do our normal buying, I’m pretty confident that we’re going to be in good shape because the groceries and basic staples we’re buying are being produced in the same amount right now and the transportation system is working. So the more we can all kind of be together on this and not doing hoarding shopping, we’ll all be in better shape.”
Question: I’m wondering what the current long-term plans are? What does life look like for next year? #AskGovInslee - @torrey_kate
Answer from Governor Inslee: “I really believe we are going to get back to the days when we’re watching our kids play soccer and visiting with our friends in our home and just doing everything we used to do. But to do that we simply have to be committed to social distancing right now. Because we need to survive these next several months, and we can’t give up or loosen our efforts in this regard. This is the critical moment, the next several weeks. And if we remain committed to this, we will be in a position to rebuild our economy, and we ought to have confidence in our ability to do that. We still have smart people and lots of assets and lots of resources, but during this interim period we’ve got to get through this period. We’ve got to get to the other side of the river if you will, so we can rebuild our lives and our families and our businesses, and I think we can do that. So let’s stick to this right now. We want to live, and we want your family members to live so we can rebuild our state.”
Researchers with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington say deaths related to coronavirus in Washington state could persist into July, even if people adhere to social distancing measures and other precautions.
Based on observed death rates, approximately 81,000 people could die from the virus over the next four months across the United States.
Gov. Inslee extended his stay-at-home order on Thursday for another month through May 4 to help slow the spread of the deadly virus. He said that date could be extended again, but it will depend on how social distancing and other measures impact the virus.