Gov. Inslee on President Trump and COVID-19: ‘We need to make decisions based on science, reality’

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday morning, called for better federal coordination to stem the COVID-19 pandemic, and said he doesn’t believe President Donald Trump’s animosity toward him should impact the U.S. government’s efforts to assist the state.

“Well, I certainly hope not,” Inslee said in response to host Jake Tapper, saying the state has a great working relationship with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and good communication with FEMA and Vice President Mike Pence. He added, “We’re not distracted by some of the noise out of the White House, and we’re continuing to work as a team. So I feel good about that. But boy, we have a lot more work to do.”

Here’s more from the interview, which you can watch in full on CNN.

On Washington state’s biggest needs right now: “We have a desperate need for the testing kits. We’ve been had some considerable success, building up the capacity to analyze the samples when they’re taken. University of Washington’s been successful. We’ve done some really good things there, but we simply don’t have the materials to take the test itself. Some things as simple as the swabs, the little vials, when you put the swab in it to send it to the lab, it needs a particular medium in it to preserve it. We just do not have those simple things. And that’s why we have got to mobilize the entire manufacturing base of the United States like we did in World War II for things as simple as these testing kits.”

On the need for a coordinated federal response: “I was talking to Elon Musk the other day, who us helping us get some ventilators, which we really appreciate. There are some business people who are helping states and he was pointing out that we don’t really necessarily maybe have such a shortage of ventilators, but we have a maldistribution of ventilators where we have ventilators sitting in places where they’re not being used and aren’t going to states who are going to be hit first like New York, like Washington state, like California. And this is where we need a federal coordination to get the assets where they’re really needed … and to mobilize our manufacturers to produce these sometimes very simple products for the entire national stockpile. We need both of those and that’s where the federal government can really help.”

On President Trump’s push to use surveillance testing to get some parts of the country back to work: “We need to make decisions based on science and reality, and there are some hard realities we have to understand, and that is, unless we continue a very vigorous social distancing program in my state, this is going to continue to spread like wildfire to every single corner of my state. That is an inevitable scientific fact and we have only one weapon to prevent that. And that is to continue our social distancing. We are seeing some very modest success in bending that curve just a little bit, but that’s very unpredictable, and we have a long, long ways to go.”

On the likelihood of extending current restrictions in Washington state: “I think it’s highly probable that the two-week “stay home, stay healthy” initiative that we started just a few days ago is going to have to be extended just because of the epidemiological evidence. And boy, I would not want to be responsible for opening the door to this virus to ravage our places that seem OK today, but within 10 weeks, within 10 days can be at full scale burning through our hospital system. And we’ve seen this happen. We’ve got to be ahead of this curve.”

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