OLYMPIA, Wash. — Gov. Jay Inslee expanded school closures and prohibited large gatherings to the entire state in an effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus while state health officials reported more than 560 people have tested positive.
Gov. Inslee announced the changes on Friday.
The orders will:
- Close all K-12 private and public schools across the state of Washington, from March 17 to Friday April 24.
- Restrictions at activity at statewide universities, schools and apprenticeships. There will not be in-person learning. They may continue online learning. Labs can continue with social distancing. Administration, safety, dormitories and medical clinics can stay open.
- Gatherings larger than 250 people will be prohibited.
- Restrictions on visitors and protocols for staff at assisted living and nursing care facilities will be expanded to adult family homes.
He acknowledged the concerns over the economic and educational impact on areas of the state that have not yet been impacted by a widespread outbreak of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus.
"We have a clear and present danger of epic proportions in this state," Inslee said. "To make it effective, you have to be ahead of the whole peak of the epidemic."
King County health officials reported five new COVID-19 deaths and Snohomish County said one person died there, bringing the state total to 37.
As of Friday, more than 6,000 people have been tested and 568 were positive in 19 counties, state health officer Dr. Kathy Lofy told The Associated Press. Even with thousands of tests being done, Lofy said it's not enough.
This developing story will be updated.