Courtesy of governor.wa.gov

Courtesy of governor.wa.gov

Inslee extends pause on counties advancing phases to July 28

A spike in cases could cause hospitalizations and deaths to rise soon.

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee is keeping his foot on the brakes for counties trying to advance phases in his “Safe Start” plan, and warned there is a “significant chance” the state could soon move in reverse if the coronavirus continues to spread.  

In early July, the governor announced counties would have to wait until July 16 to ask the state to move forward in his four-tiered reopening plan. On July 14, Inslee extended the pause until at least July 28. And unless Washingtontians mask up and halt the rising spread of the virus, there is a significant chance restrictions on businesses and social activity could soon come back, he said.

“We have to face a brutal truth. Unfortunately, this pandemic is still raging in the state of Washington,” Inslee said during a July 14 news conference. “That’s painful to say, but it is a reality.”

Figures for new cases, infection rates and hospitalizations are rising at a stable rate statewide, Inslee said.

“We are not seeing the explosive rise like we did in March,” Inslee said. “We are seeing a steady climb. Somehow we have to break that climb to a plateau and break that number down.”

That could mean re-enacting restrictions for indoor activities like dining, he said.

To avoid that, wear a face mask, avoid large groups and limit unnecessary activity.

The governor’s announcements come as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in King County.

As of the July 14 press conference, King County had 12,224 positive cases and 606 total COVID-related deaths, according to the county. Statewide, Washington has seen 42,304 confirmed cases of COVID and 1,404 total COVID-related deaths as of July 14, according to the state Department of Health.

Across the state, new cases are concentrated with young people, who are less likely to experience serious symptoms from the virus. Some counties have seen increases in hospitalizations believed to be associated with cases creeping into older age groups.

Across the country, elected leaders and health experts have long said quick contact tracing is key in the fight against the coronavirus, as businesses and activities reopened after months-long closures.

Local health officials have struggled to track down the newly infected and notify everyone potentially exposed to the virus in the timely manner sought by the state as a requirement for reopening.

Statewide, counties are reaching between 30% to 100% of people within 24 hours of a positive test result, state Secretary of Health John Wiesman said during a news conference last week.

In May, Gov. Jay Inslee launched an initiative to assemble a brigade of men and women to assist local health districts contact individuals sickened with coronavirus and track down others who they may have infected.

Since then, roughly 1,500 people have been trained as contact tracers. Of the total, about half are members of the National Guard and the other half are employees of the Department of Licensing. And the pool continues to grow with 268 people added to the ranks in recent days.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

Screenshot of Gov. Jay Inslee during his July 14, 2020, press conference.

Screenshot of Gov. Jay Inslee during his July 14, 2020, press conference.

More in News & Comment

Aaron Kunkler/staff photoAlvin Sweet is a resident of Martin Court in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. Martin Court is a former motel which was transformed into a supportive housing complex two decades ago. New funding from King County’s Health through Housing ordinance could expand this type of program across the county.
King County wants to buy motels for emergency, affordable housing

The concept has proven results in addressing homelessness.

Puget Sound renters will need housing assistance
Puget Sound renters will need housing assistance

Nonprofits, activists are expecting greater need as workers are laid off.

Courtesy photo
State demanded more drop boxes, and now it must pay for them

A King County judge says a law requiring more ballot boxes was an illegal unfunded mandate.

Stock photo
King County domestic violence homicides reach 16 so far this year

Previous two years had seven each as COVID-19 impacts incidents

King County 2020 unemployment numbers. Source: Washington State Employment Security Department
Boeing, coronavirus likely to impact King County economy

Unemployment remained high in September.

File photo
Motorcyclist dies after driver fails to yield while making left turn

The accident occurred around 3:15 p.m. near 21st Avenue SW and SW Campus Drive in Federal Way.

t
Smith, Basler running for District 9 Congress seat

Republican challenger takes on Democrat incumbent.

File photo
State Supreme Court strikes down $30 car-tab initiative

Justices unanimously agreed that voter-approved Initiative 976 is unconstitutional.

t
Kent girl, 12, dies trying to help her mother during seizure in car

Miranda Bhattacharyya ’always put the well-being of others before herself,’ family says

Hilary Franz (left) and Sue Kuehl Pederson
Wildfires, forest health are key issues in race to lead DNR

Republican Sue Kuehl Pederson is challenging incumbent Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz.

Screenshot from the state Employment Security Department’s website at esd.wa.gov.
State still sifting through thousands of unemployment claims

The recent Lost Wages Assistance program pumped an extra $625 million to Washington’s unemployed.

power grid electricity power lines blackouts PG&E (Shutterstock)
State extends moratorium on some electric, gas shutoffs

Investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities in WA can’t disconnect customers through April.