Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Governor: Many COVID-19 restrictions to linger after May 4

In a televised address, Jay Inslee announced a framework for a very gradual end to social lockdown.

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday mapped a course for reopening the state and reviving the economy — but cautioned that many restrictions related to COVID-19 will remain past May 4.

Given encouraging signs that the spread of coronavirus is likely in decline, prohibitions could be lifted soon on some elective surgeries, residential construction and much of the outdoor recreation “that is so much a part of our Northwest identity, as well as our physical and mental health,” Inslee said in a televised address.

But moving too fast, too soon to repeal restrictions across the board could be “disastrous” and lead to another outbreak.

“The reality we need to be aware of is simply this: We are going to have to steel ourselves against this virus for quite some time,” Inslee said Tuesday. “It is going to affect our daily lives in many ways for months. And we have to be aware that it could come back at us in waves.”

On Tuesday, the cumulative COVID-19 case count in Snohomish County stood at 2,189 confirmed infections and 175 probable ones, with 98 dead since the outbreak began in January, according to the Snohomish Health District. Statewide, the tally was 12,282 cases and 682 deaths, the state Department of Health said.

The governor spoke two days after 2,500 people demonstrated in Olympia against his stay-home order, which has shut down much of the state since last month. The order remains in place until May 4, although the governor’s chief of staff said as of this week it is likely to be extended through the end of May.

Inslee’s plan focuses on protecting public health, bolstering the welfare of families, phasing in a restart of industries, and preventing the virus from leaving more Washingtonians dead in its wake.

Before social-distancing restrictions are eased, Inslee said there must be sufficient testing and contact tracing — that is, the process of finding everyone who has come in contact with an infected person, so they can be checked and possibly isolated.

The governor reiterated that the state remains “drastically behind on testing supplies,” and he sent a letter Tuesday to Vice President Mike Pence asking the federal government to help by building a “robust national testing system that will enable a safe return to public life amid COVID-19.”

Inslee wrote that Washington was working to procure 2½ million test collection kits, but the state was nowhere near that number Tuesday. In his speech, Inslee said current capacity was around 4,000 tests per day, when it needs to be closer to 30,000.

A number of key questions still need answers, such as what agencies will be responsible for bolstering the contact-tracing workforce, who will train and manage the new employees and — perhaps the biggest question of all — who will pay for the mammoth effort.

Inslee didn’t answer those questions with specifics in his address Tuesday.

“We really can’t let that be a concern. We will find the money,” David Postman, Inslee’s chief of staff, told reporters shortly before the address. If the state doesn’t have enough money, he said, “we’ll go to the federal government.”

Nearly 600 people across Washington are trained to conduct contact investigations, and another 800 volunteers are expected to start soon, said Dr. Kathy Lofy, the state health officer. The state hopes to “scale up” those numbers even more, she said.

Inslee is aiming to get the total number to 1,500 workers by mid-May.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@kirklandreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kirklandreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

Nurse Sylvia Keller, pictured with Gov. Jay Inslee, is on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle in Yakima County. Courtesy photo
Governor doubles down on mask rules

Inslee: Starting July 7, businesses do not serve those who do not wear a mask

State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
Politicians get pay raises, state workers get furloughs

A citizens panel approved the hikes in 2019. Unable to rescind them, lawmakers look to donate their extra earnings.

Human remains in West Seattle identified

Bags of body parts were found in a suitcase along a West Seattle beach on June 19.

According to King County’s Mental Illness and Drug Dependency (MIDD) annual report, Seattle had the highest rate of people using services at 36 percent of the total, followed by 31 percent from South King County, 18 percent from the greater Eastside, and 7 percent from north county including Shoreline. Courtesy image
Drug courts, officer de-escalation programs impacted by MIDD cuts

The fund provides money for mental illness and drug dependency programs across King County.

Summer vehicle travel projected to decrease this year

Traffic this summer will likely be lighter across Washington state than previous… Continue reading

Governor Jay Inslee smiles and laughs Sept. 3, 2019, during a speech at the Lynnwood Link Extension groundbreaking in Lynnwood. A Thurston County judge ruled he exceeded his authority when he vetoed single sentences in the state transportation budget in 2019. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)
Judge invalidates Gov. Inslee’s veto in roads budget

Lawmakers said the governor crossed a constitutional line.

King County cases among younger adults drives increase in COVID-19 numbers

Over half of all new cases are among people ages 20-39

Kirkland man found guilty of promoting prostitution in Eastside sex trafficking ring

Authorities say suspect ran “successful enterprise” for greater half of a decade.

Kirkland allocates CARES Act funding

The council approved the city manager’s plans for the $2.6 million

Most Read