Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is extending the state’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order for another month, through May 31, pointing to progress in combating COVID-19 but warning that the disease will “jump right back up and bite us” if the state doesn’t remain vigilant in its efforts to slow its spread.
“We have not won this fight against this virus,” Inslee said, adding that “the new normal is not here yet.”
Inslee unveiled a four-phase approach for reopening businesses and activities, with some restrictions starting to loosen in a first phase on May 5.
However, he pointed to data including new projections from the Institute for Disease Modeling predicting that the rate of infection will climb again if restrictions are lifted too aggressively.
“Look, I understand the frustrations that we all have shared. It’s so frustrating that we don’t want to do this twice. This is bad enough once. We should not take the risk to do this twice,” Inslee said at a news conference Friday afternoon, when asked about concerns from citizens and businesses eager to reopen in the face of the economic crisis.
The announcement came a day after Amazon told employees that it will give them the option to work from home until at least early October — extending its remote work guidance by several months. Inslee said the decision shows that telecommuting is an effective alternative for some companies, and remote work will remain a part of the mix even after the crisis subsides.
“We’re not mandating that, but we certainly encourage it,” Inslee said of Amazon’s decision to let employees work from home for a longer period of time.
The state is making decisions based on “hard data and science and not wishes,” Inslee said.
In addition to watching total case counts, the state is pushing to increase COVID-19 testing capacity beyond the approximately 4,000 to 5,000 daily tests being conducted today in the state. Inslee said the state has capacity to process 20,000 tests a day, but is counting on the federal government to follow through on commitments to deliver significantly more test kits to support the volume needed to further relax restrictions.
The governor said some counties where the disease hasn’t been as pervasive will be able to apply for exemptions from the ongoing order.
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