News

‘Stay Home’

Governor issues new orders to halt COVID-19

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Governor Jay Inslee spoke directly to Washingtonians on Monday and announced he will sign a statewide order that requires everyone in the state to stay home. The order will last for two weeks and could be extended.

“The less time we spend in public, the more lives we will save,” Inslee said. 

Inslee ordered nonessential businesses to close and the state’s more than 7 million residents to stay home unless necessary in order to slow the spread of the novel coronavrirus, COVID-19. By Monday, the virus had spread in Washington to more than 2,200 individuals and claimed 110 lives.

“This is a human tragedy on a scale we cannot yet project. It’s time to hunker down in order to win this fight,” Inslee said during a televised address.

The order notes it’s safe for people to go outside as long as they remain at least six feet from each other. Grocery stores, doctor’s offices and other essential businesses will remain open. People can still participate in activities such as bike rides, gardening and dog walking—as long as they follow social distancing rules.

This order builds on the early and unprecedented steps the state took in the past few weeks to protect Washingtonians. These included closing schools and restaurants, entertainment venues and other businesses where people gather.

“We’ve been very clear on the need for everyone to stay home,” Inslee said. “And, while most Washingtonians are doing their part, some still don’t grasp the seriousness of this pandemic.”

The stay-at-home order is initially in place through April 6, though officials said it will be reassessed at that time and could be extended.

All public and private social, spiritual and recreational gatherings are now banned, including weddings and funerals. The order’s prohibition on gatherings and leaving home unless necessary takes effect immediately.

Washington was an early outbreak area for the pandemic. For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, and the majority recover. But for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

Nursing homes and convalescence centers continue to be hard hit by the virus. Shuksan Healthcare Center, a nursing center in Bellingham, saw 29 new cases confirmed on Sunday, according to the Whatcom County Health Department. Twenty-three of the new cases were residents while six were Shuksan employees, according to county health officials.

Skagit County was similarly struck by an outbreak cluster and has reported 45 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

“What we’re really trying to avoid is this rapid acceleration of cases,” Washington Secretary of Health John Wiesman said on a call with reporters after the governor’s announcement. “Without social distancing, this just keeps spreading like wildfire.”

Inslee said he knows the order will add to the economic and family hardship many are already feeling, and that everyone wants things to be back to normal.

“The fastest way to get back to normal is to hit this hard,” Inslee said. “That’s what we’re doing.

“We will keep working until this is defeated.”

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