Inslee announces medical and dental services reopening, no guarantee of Phase 2 for June 1

by Luke Putvin | Lynnwood Times Staff

At his May 18 press conference, Governor Jay Inslee announced a proclamation to reopen medical and dental services.

Inslee was joined by Sally Watkins, Executive Director of the Washington State Nurses Association, and Bill Robertson, President and CEO of Multicare. Both offered their thanks to those who provided their voice to make this proclamation.

“We believe now, that with appropriate safety measures, we can start the process of getting back to non-urgent medical and dental care,” Inslee said. “This is one more step, and we think of this as a pacing item… We’ll be looking at PPE capacity for contact tracing. We’re going to see how these impact our plans going forward, but we’re glad we can take this first step now.”

This proclamation was formed in partnership with healthcare professionals including nurses, doctors and others. New protocols will be in place as medical and dental services reopen for non-urgent care. There will be a limit of the number of individuals allowed in waiting rooms, physical distancing requirements, handwashing requirements and more.

Gov. Jay Inslee, joined by Sally Watkins, executive director of WSNA, Bill Robertson, president and chief executive officer of MultiCare, and Vice Admiral, Dr. Raquel Bono, will address the media today at 2:30 pm to talk about the state's plan to reopen the health care system.

Posted by TVW — Washington Public Affairs Network on Monday, May 18, 2020
Governor Inslee’s May 18, 2020 Press Conference. Video courtey of TVW — Washington Public Affairs Network.

Inslee also mentioned another reason for opening up medical and dental services: the implementation of a new system that allows real-time tracking within state hospitals to ensure the state can be ready if there is a new COVID-19 threat.

“Without a vaccine… we still live in the era of COVID-19. It remains a deadly foe,” Inslee said.

When Inslee was asked if Washington would move to Phase 2 by June 1, he replied, “We would really like to move to Phase 2, but we cannot guarantee when that will happen. That will depend on the status of the virus. It will depend on our ability to set up strong testing, contact tracing and isolation protocols… If we were to make the wrong decision… this thing could just bounce right back up.”

When asked of the specific criteria used to assess transitioning to Phase 2, the governor stated the following:

  • Pecentage of test positives
  • Number of tests performed per day
  • Date of onset of hospitalization
  • Current status of people hospitalized
  • Number of fatalities
  • Mobility data
  • Hospital surge capacity – specifically ventilators and beds
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) capacity
  • Reproduction number (R0) – the number of cases attributed to a single positive case

Reporters questioned Inslee on a Freedom Foundation article released today stating that the COVID-19 death total is inflated by as much as 13 percent due to the state’s practice of counting every person who tests positive for COVID-19 and subsequently dies, even if the death was not caused by COVID-19.

“I haven’t seen this assertion… at the moment I have confidence in the numbers we put forward. They come from a verity of sources. I see no reason at the moment to believe the fatality numbers are not consistent with reality.”

“The problem is you have some people out there who are fanning these conspiracy claims from the planet Pluto. And it is just disgusting what they are trying to say of all this crazy deep state malarkey.”

Inslee also mentioned uncertainty to when large sporting events may return. “We don’t know,” he said. He went on to say that the opening of the economy depends on individuals who have tested positive and their families isolating.

“What is important in the next several months is our ability for people who have positive COVID, to isolate and make sure they don’t go out to infect more people. Whether we can open football games… depends on the ability of families to isolate for 14 days, the whole family.”

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