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Washington extends COVID-19 restrictions another month

UPDATE 5/1/2020: Gov. Inslee is poised to add another extension of the state’s lockdown restrictions in a conference scheduled for 2:30 PM. Wednesday, Inslee discussed the metrics and forecast models being utilized by his office and state health officials to determine the next stages of restrictions and openings.

COVID-19 updates: With metrics and models, Inslee says to prepare for extended Washington ‘stay home’ restrictions

Saying we cannot “sacrifice the lives of Washingtonians by ending these measures too soon,” Governor Jay Inslee announced Thursday that statewide COVID-19 restrictions will be extended through at least May 4th.

“The only way to return to our way of life and rebuild our economy in Washington is to defeat this virus,” Inslee said. “That is why we must continue to stay home and stay healthy.”

The order extends restrictions put in place two weeks ago as Washington faced the earliest significant COVID-19 outbreak in the nation. Now, with more than 230,000 cases and approaching 6,000 deaths, the rest of the United States is also facing lockdowns and restrictions.

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CHS COVID-19 TIMELINE+ Feb. 29 First ‘presumptive positive’ COVID-19 case in King County + Mar. 11 Washington put ‘over 250’ restrictions in place + Mar. 11 Schools closed + Mar. 15 Restaurants and bars closed, ‘over 50’ threshold + Mar. 21 Police begin clearing parks

In Washington, the legally enforceable order restricts activities to only essential needs including visiting health facilities, grocery shopping, and working in “essential businesses” and industries. Restaurants and bars have also been able to continue offering to go and delivery orders. Larger impacts include a halt to most commercial construction that does not involve safety or critical repairs. Work underway to build new retail and housing around Capitol Hill Station has come to an abrupt halt.

The state’s economy has been crippled by the crisis. More than 133,000 people filed for unemployment benefits from March 15-21, up from just over 14,000 the week before, according to the Employment Security Department. King County residents accounted for 37,296 of the jobless claims that week. More than 41,000 were in the accommodation and food services industry.

A federal relief package and state efforts including broader unemployment insurance access, a moratorium on evictions, utility ratepayer assistance, and tax relief are hoped to help soften the blow.

The restrictions are hoped to help slow the spread of the potentially virulent virus and buy time for the state’s medical facilities to keep ahead of demand for limited resources including respirators and even basic medical gear like masks and gowns. Research shows the measures appear to be working. “We are seeing a positive effect from the social distancing and other measures we’ve put in place, although significant numbers of cases and deaths continue to occur,” Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health, said.

The state so far has recorded more than 6,500 COVID-19 cases and 262 deaths. Around 80,000 Washingtonians have been tested with about 8% testing positive.

King County recorded its 175 death Wednesday and now has tallied 2,671 patients sick with the virus. While the county’s curve has not flattened, the growth in both cases and deaths has slowed. ZIP Codes covering Capitol Hill and most of the Central District, meanwhile, show have recorded 114 positive cases and 4 deaths.

There are also efforts to increase hospital capacity in the region. The US Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA are deploying a military field hospital at the CenturyLink Field Event Center to assist the region’s hospitals.

Increased testing will also help but most efforts currently available even in Seattle — a relatively wealthy city in a region where officials have been proactive in their response to the crisis — have not reached a scale of deployment capable of achieving “universal testing.”

Meanwhile, projections from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation now forecast a peak for COVID-19 deaths in Washington in about a week. CHS wrote about the forecast model here. Washington is now projected to reach peaks of around 2,300 hospitalized cases with about 20 deaths per day.

Inslee’s decision to extend the period didn’t add any new restrictions for the state. With non-essential businesses and industries and schools ordered closed and people under stay at home restrictions, levers for officials to use to further slow the spread of the virus are few. Travel restrictions remain one major category yet to be applied. Currently, there are no national orders for social distancing restrictions in place.

Experts have warned that any premature lifting of social distancing — and, some say, lifting of social distancing at any level — could lead to “second wave” outbreaks. The hope is that the spread of the virus can be slowed enough to give authorities time to find the right mix of testing and care to get life back to some semblance of normalcy.


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18 thoughts on “Washington extends COVID-19 restrictions another month

  1. My prediction, when it’s all said and done, is that we will have spent billions for each incremental life saved. A standard we apply to nothing else. Scared politicians who know that if they do too much it will never be provable (it would have been terrible if we didn’t shut down the economy, it was only so mild because of everything we did…), but if they exercise some cost/benefit analysis and it ends up worse than expected they’ll lose their jobs. Well here’s to hoping they all lose their jobs this coming election days. What a bunch of clowns. Let the virus run its course. Thin the herd. Strengthen the gene pool.

      • I actually have a pretty good background in Economics. This is not the Spanish Flu. That had a far higher mortality rate, and hit folks 20-40. COVID-19 is, if you look at Germany which is ahead in testing, at 0.5%. And will go down as testing improves. And is primarily killing the elderly and infirm. It’s nothing like Spanish Flu. Read up on it. When the final report is written on this is will look like a very bad flu season that world leaders massively over-reacted to. You can just watch them follow-the-leader. CA did something, now WA has to follow. And then MA…. But everyone is a sucker for the media frenzy – the death count stock ticker on your TV. 1000 WA residents have died. Of 7.5 million. This is not a big number.

      • I sure bet you know a lot about economics.

        I bet you are best friends with my neighbor, Mr. Dunning-Kruger. I see definite signs of commonality.

    • Thin the herd you say? Something tells me you’d change your tune if it was you or your loved ones, Mr. Economist.

      I imagine these “think the herd” people to not have a lot of friends or loved ones in their lives. Sucks for you, but at least you have your libertarian ethos to keep you warm at night.

    • My prediction is that this will wake up the young voting base and our country will finally start to move to the 21st century with things like:

      *Universal healthcare
      *Actual safety nets, rather than the hodge-podge system we have that’s used as a political football
      *The return of employee rights
      *Rolling back tax cuts on the wealthy
      *Better tax code, eliminating loop holes that send US GDP to offshore accounts for corporations and the wealthy
      *Corporate justice and the breakup of companies that have gotten way too large

      Bonus, we can get free energy due to how fast Ayn Rand will be spinning in her grave!

      • I also hope that this will raise awareness about pollution — since the shutting down of societies is so quickly clearing air, water and noise pollution. what I hope people learn from this is that we need to change our travelling habits, buy less crap in favor of better quality, long lasting stuff, etc. but I’m worried the world will go back to their bad habits as soon as this is over. :(

  2. As the photo in this article illustrates, graffiti has increased greatly in recent days. Hooligans are taking advantage of our empty streets to do their vandalism, and someone will have to clean up after them, at some point.

    This is not the most important negative effect of the pandemic, but it is contributing to the general feeling of dystopia on our streets.

    • You say “graffiti” and I say they are “crimes” of artistic survival.

      It makes me sick that true artistes like LABRAT are forced to spray their names on private property. We need to create dedicated exhibit space for people who are otherwise forced to scrawl their tags (in between huffs) on peoples’ houses.

      Dismantle SAM and feature intersectional taggers!

    • “Hooligans”? Lol Bob you sound like an old grump.

      I personally would like to see more (and better) street art covering up those sad pieces of plywood covering up all the shop windows.

      • It would be great if graffiti “artists” would decorate the plywood with colorful images, because those might brighten up our gloomy streets and would be temporary and easily gone when the plywood is removed. But, instead, they vandalize public and private property with their tags and political slogans, which are clearly not “art.” Someone has to clean up what they do at some expense, whether it be city workers (paid by taxpayers) or business/property owners.

      • I plead guilty to being grumpy at times. But better grumpy than apathetic about an activity that is illegal and which has a negative effect on our city.

  3. In the land of obesity and poor access to health care we have got to figure 5% might die – so maybe 15million. New Orleans is a good indicator of what happens in low income areas. It’s the poor who will suffer, not the herd.

  4. I am a caregiver and while I am glad to work and make sure people in need of “physical care” are being helped, I do think it needs to be limited for our safety! I get sent to home where all the client wants is 3 hrs of housework done even while other adult family members live in the home! This is not essential work! And certainly not risking death! Jay do something for us!

    • I am astonished that a client can qualify for housekeeping services (? publicly-funded via Medicaid) when there are able-bodied adults in the home. This is just not right.

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