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Inslee urges gatherings to be held outdoors to quell rising COVID-19 cases

With concerns about a fourth wave of COVID-19 cases, Gov. Jay Inslee is asking for social gatherings to be held outdoors.

SEATTLE — During a press conference Thursday, Gov. Jay Inslee warned that Washington state was on the cusp of a fourth COVID-19 wave with case numbers and hospitalizations rising. 

He urged people to get vaccinated and to socialize and conduct business outside as much as possible to help slow further spread of the virus. 

Inslee said newly reported COVID-19 cases had grown to more than 1,000 a day, up from 700 a day in February, and that daily new hospitalization rates were now in the 40s compared to the 30s a month ago. 

On Monday, Inslee announced that three counties will move back to more strict coronavirus restrictions at the end of the week because of rising cases and hospitalizations.

RELATED: Pierce County one of three moving back to Phase 2 of Washington's reopening plan

While health leaders urged for social gatherings to be held outdoors, they stress the importance of maintaining COVID-safe protocols, like face masks and social distancing while in public. 

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan shared the following statement this week:

“Seattle is an incredible city all year round – but spring and summer in Seattle truly make our city one of the best places in the world to live. As warmer weather returns to our region, I sincerely hope that people take this opportunity to enjoy all that our city has to offer – from Golden Gardens to Seward Park, to Pike Place Market and beyond – but I urge everyone to do so safely. We have already seen the beginning of a fourth wave due to the presence of variants in our community, which could push us back into Phase Two.

"While we are taking steps towards reopening, we all still have a role to play in defeating this pandemic. I know everyone is fatigued, and we all want this pandemic to be over. But now is not the time to let up on our efforts. Please continue to wear your mask in public, keep your distance and limit social gatherings, get tested and stay home if you feel sick, and sign up for a vaccine.”

RELATED: Puget Sound health leaders urge COVID-safe measures while enjoying warmer weather