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After nearly 1,000 days, Washington’s COVID-19 state of emergency will end October 31st

The state of emergency was enacted in early 2020 when we were still getting used to face masks

(Image: Washington State Department of Health)

Just under 1,000 days and after what will be more than 14,000 deaths from the virus in the state, Washington’s COVID-19 state of emergency will end October 31st.

“We’ve come a long way the past two years in developing the tools that allow us to adapt and live with COVID-19,” Governor Jay Inslee said in Thursday’s announcement as his administration credited the response for Washington’s relatively low death rate during the waves of outbreaks. “Ending this order does not mean we take it less seriously or will lose focus on how this virus has changed the way we live. We will continue our commitments to the public’s well-being, but simply through different tools that are now more appropriate for the era we’ve entered.”

Through the pandemic, Capitol HIll residents and businesses lived through new restrictions and requirements including social distancing, mask, and vaccination mandates as officials tried to fine tune the public response to slowing the spread of the virus.

Many elements of the emergency have already ended or been canceled but the lifting of the February 2020 declaration will bring a new milestone in emerging from the pandemic across the state with the end of requirements like vaccination mandates for state workers.

It will also more fully unhinge a complicated framework of legal structures and policies ranging from counties, to cities, to institutions like schools and hospitals, to private businesses that have built rules and requirements around the official emergency status.

Examples include the crisis standards of care put in place under the emergency by hospitals and health care systems to help prioritize staffing and resources. Unwinding the state of emergency will continue and, in some cases, begin the unwinding of policies and guidelines put in place during the pandemic. How much day to day staffing, operations, and activities will return to pre-pandemic levels remains to be seen.

(Image: Gov. Jay Inslee’s office)

Community COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic at Seattle University (Image: Swedish)

Customers line up at the Broadway Dick's

Customers kept a socially distanced line at Dick’s during the height of the pandemic (Image: CHS)

Lucille Henry receives her first Covid-19 vaccine

It will now be up to state leaders to fight for permanent requirements in the face of ongoing COVID cases and, equally important, to be better prepared for health threats that follow.

Meanwhile, here in Seattle and King County, reported cases and hospitalizations have continued on a downward trend with health officer Dr. Jeff Duchin saying the high uptake of vaccinations plus updated boosters and immunity from prior infections, “in the absence of a major new variant that evades immunity,” should limit the “severity and impact of future surges.”

Washington COVID-19 cases (Source: New York Times)

But we are still living with COVID.

“Although no one wants to hear it, I don’t like saying it, and many don’t want to accept it, it’s clear that COVID-19 is not disappearing,” Duchin said in a recent press briefing. “It is changing. It appears less severe in important ways, but it’s persistent, it’s insidious and it remains somewhat unpredictable.”

Inslee and state officials, meanwhile, encouraged Thursday the continued use of vaccines and masks beyond the end of the emergency declaration.

“Vaccines and therapeutic treatments are available to prevent hospitalizations and death,” the statement from the governor’s office read. “However, COVID-19 remains one of the deadliest infectious viruses in the United States. The virus kills more than 300 people nationally every day, including more than 10 people a day in Washington state.”

In Seattle, 739 deaths have been recorded in the city and more than 3,000 have been hospitalized.

Across the state, 74% of the population is fully vaccinated but only 41% have received a booster. To learn more about your vaccination status and where to get the latest boosters, visit


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20 days ago

Woo hoo! Just in time for Dems to win some midterms.