Gov. Jay Inslee spoke directly to Washingtonians Tuesday evening to lay out his vision for the eventual safe return to public life amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Inslee said it is unlikely many restrictions under the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order will be modified before May 4. Rather, this plan is intended to be a framework for the loosening of restrictions contingent on a steady decrease of the spread of COVID-19.
“It will look more like the turning of the dial than the flip of a switch,” Inslee said in the address. “We’re going to take steps and then monitor to see whether they work or if we must continue to adapt.”
Depending on health projections for the spread of the virus, some distancing restrictions may be in place for weeks or months to come.
“In the coming days, we will receive additional health modeling projecting the course of this virus,” Inslee said. “We hope it will give us cause to begin lifting certain restrictions.”
The return to public life will occur in measured steps. It will be guided by science and informed by our public health needs, our ability to mitigate impacts, and the response of Washington communities.
The governor’s plan has three overriding goals:
Protect the health and safety of Washingtonians
The recovery plan begins with widely available testing for individuals who may have contracted COVID-19, tracing for those who have come into close contact with COVID-19 positive individuals, and isolation or quarantine for individuals who could transmit the virus.
However, a variety of barriers to accessing the necessary supplies have prevented Washington from processing more than 4,000 tests a day. For the contact-tracing plan to work, the state needs to be processing between 20,000 and 30,000 tests a day. Earlier Tuesday, the governor sent a letter to the vice president asking the White House to create a national testing system.
Facilitate a safe start and transition to economic recovery
Economic recovery depends on a healthy workforce. When aspects of the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order are lifted, the state will provide guidelines so businesses can operate safely. Even after the order is lifted, workplaces will continue to look and operate differently until a COVID-19 vaccine is available. Continued physical distancing, teleworking and other measures will continue to be necessary to keep workers and customers safe.
Support all people and communities
The COVID-19 outbreak has affected every Washingtonian in different ways. Many in the state will need some kind of assistance to recover. A safe return to public life will require increased social and emotional supports, food and housing security, educational and child care support, internet infrastructure and equitable access to services.
“We need to reckon with the reality that disparities in our communities mean not every family can recovery as quickly as others. Disparities in access have already been exposed in ways not seen in modern times,” Inslee said.
The plan also emphasizes the necessity that community leaders from across the state to work together to provide guidance for a safe and sustainable recovery for all Washingtonians. The governor will appoint three leadership groups to advise on public health, economic recovery and social supports.
“We are looking forward to making advances against this virus,” Inslee said. “Only science, data and informed reasoning can lift us out of this crisis.”
Watch the governor’s address here.
Policy brief: “Washington’s Recovery Plan”