Politics & Elections

WA, CA and OR’s Western States Pact: a vision to reopen states’ economies

By Luke Putvin | Lynnwood Times Staff

“Stay Home, Stay Healthy” Extension

On April 2, Governor Jay Inslee announced at a press conference that there would be an extension of his “Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order” originally given on March 23. The order originally lasted two weeks, until April 6, but it has been extended through May 4. This means a continuation of the banning of all gatherings and closure of non-essential businesses.

“Epidemiological modeling from the University of Washington predicts we will have at least 1,400 deaths this year,” Inslee said at his April 2 address. “We are yet to see the full toll of this virus in our state and the modeling we’ve seen could be much worse if we don’t continue what we’re doing to slow the spread.”

Individuals have been advised to notify their local police department if they see a violation of the order or to file a complaint for a business that remains open through a form on www.coronavirus.wa.gov.

“We have taken dozens of steps under my emergency powers to help people in this time, including moratoriums on evictions, mortgage forbearance, utility ratepayer assistance, unemployment extensions, flexibility on tax payments and cash assistance to families,” Inslee said. “We will do more.”

School Closure Extension

Governor Jay Inslee was joined by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal at his April 6 press conference. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, public schools in Washington will not be allowed to have in-person learning for the rest of the school year. Inslee said that this was a difficult decision to make.

Though this decision and the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order have been difficult decisions from Inslee, he said, “We do believe we’re making some progress in our state, and Washingtonians should be proud of this.”

Inslee noted that efforts are as important as the curve of the virus goes down as when the curve was going up. This order is trying to reduce deaths as the curve goes down. He also mentioned that high school seniors in good standing will receive their diplomas this year. Inslee told students, “Your grades will not suffer because of this, but we need you to do your part too.”

“We know the value of school and the value of learning,” Reykdal said. He thanked Inslee for his leadership and Washington’s response during the COVID-19 pandemic, and he said that he took to heart concerns from parents, educators, principals and others.

Reykdal also cautioned that rushing too soon back to school could put a significant risk in learning continuity. There is the concern of the curve of the virus spiking back up if we rush back to school too soon.

Reykdal argued that a situation like this showed that telecom should be seen as an essential utility like water and said that Washington should be the leader in this.

“From the seeds of crisis… comes the blossom of innovation,” said Reykdal.

Washington, California and Oregon Pact to reopen economies

On April 13, Governor Jay Inslee, California Governor Gavin Newsom and Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced an agreement on a vision to reopen all the states’ economies as well as controlling COVID-19 for the future.

“COVID-19 has preyed upon our interconnectedness,” said the joint statement from the governors. “In the coming weeks, the West Coast will flip the script on COVID-19 – with our states acting in close coordination and collaboration to ensure the virus can never spread wildly in our communities.”

The statement continued as mentioning joint focus on residents’ health, decisions guided by science – not politics and the effectiveness of working together.

“Through quick and decisive action, each of our states has made significant progress in flattening the curve and slowing the spread of COVID-19 among the broader public. Now, our public health leaders will focus on four goals that will be critical for controlling the virus in the future.”

Protecting vulnerable populations, ensuring an ability to care for those infected with COVID-19, mitigating non-direct COVID-19 health impacts and protecting the general public by making sure any lifting of interventions include systems for testing and isolating were other messages included in the statement.

“In the coming days the governors, their staff and health officials will continue conversations about this regional pact to recovery,” the statement concluded.

Snohomish County Update

On April 10, Snohomish County held a virtual press conference giving updates on the pandemic at the county level. Executive Dave Somers was joined by Chris Spitters and Dr. Matthew Beecroft from Providence Medical in Everett.

Somers said that, at this point, it appears that we are flattening the curve, but that doesn’t mean we can stop our current efforts.

He reinforced the importance of relationships between the public and private sectors and reiterated measures the county has taken, such as shutting down non-essential businesses, moving homeless individuals from shelters to hotels, making sure children that rely on free or reduced lunches have meals and more.

Somers said there is a better sense of the scale of the pandemic on the community, but there is still more that needs to be done. “We must keep going; if we slack off now, we could see a rebound.”

He also mentioned that restrictions may be able to be dialed back in a few weeks if the current level of caution is maintained by the public, adding that we risk having the restrictions for even longer if we stop abiding by them.

“We are not done by any stretch of the imagination… People are dying every day from this virus in Snohomish County,” said Spitters.

Spitters made the analogy of currently having a ten-point lead in the third quarter saying that, though we are on track to win, we can’t declare victory too soon.

He advised those that want to be tested but do not qualify for the drive-through testing sites to talk to their healthcare providers. He said if people have any symptoms of a respiratory illness they should stay home. He added that even healthy individuals should continue to remain at home except for essential trips.

Beecroft shared some signs of positivity from the hospital side; he said that it seems like at this point we are preventing it turning into a major disaster in the state of Washington. “Other countries and cities weren’t so lucky,” he said.

A large concern he shared is that individuals won’t come to the hospital for other serious issues with all of this occurring. He stressed that if people have other immediate issues, like complications with COPD among a large list of things, they should still go to the hospital. They are keeping patients that don’t have respiratory issues in separate areas.

Visit www.coronavirus.wa.gov and www.snohd.org for more information.

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