OLYMPIA, Wash. — Despite a rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, Gov. Jay Inslee said he is not reimplementing any mask mandates in Washington state.
“That’s not under consideration right now,” Inslee said during a press conference Wednesday.
Inslee said the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for state employees will remain in place.
“It’s the nature of the disease,” said Inslee. “We do not want our state employees to go to the hospital, or dying.”
However, he said an announcement could be made soon to exempt some state contractors from the vaccine requirement.
According to data from the Washington State Department of Health, the state had a seven-day rate of 208 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 Washingtonians between May 3-9, with a seven-day case count of 15,962. Around 6% of hospital beds in the state were occupied by COVID patients between May 5-11, according to the data.
During the wide-ranging press conference Wednesday, Inslee said he would like to see an amendment passed in the state to protect a woman’s right to have an abortion, something he said could be prohibited nationally if Republicans have a majority in Congress, or in Washington state.
“I think that is clear and people need to be aware that risk exists,” said Inslee, who added getting an amendment passed could be difficult.
It would require a super-majority of legislative support, a two-thirds majority and would require voter approval.
Inslee to review convicted killer's parole request
The governor also said Wednesday he is reviewing the case of Timothy Pauley, a convicted killer who could be released on parole in July. Pauley was convicted and sentenced to life, for the 1980 triple-murder at the Barn Door Tavern.
Employees Linda Burford, Robert Pierre and Loran Dowell were all killed.
Sentencing laws changed in 1984, making Pauley’s life sentence up for review.
In April, the state’s Indeterminate Sentence Review Board decided Pauley was eligible for release.
Inslee can block the release, and Dowell’s family members met with the governor to try and get him to step in.
Inslee confirmed he is reviewing the “worrisome” crime and met with victims’ relatives.
“I understand the pain they have undergone and we hope to have a decision one way or another in the near future,” said Inslee.