Governor Jay Inslee Wednesday said he cannot lift his Stay Home Stay Heathy order when it is set to expire next week but mentioned he would update his plans for a broader phased-in reopening of the state economy from the coronavirus outbreak with a planned announcement on Friday.
After loosening the order for construction and use of state parks, Inslee indicated that hospitals could be next allowed to perform non-urgent surgeries using personal protective equipment. He did not address non-essential retailers that have been closed since he announced the order on March 23. The closures have resulted in widespread layoffs and furloughs within the industry.
Though Costco has announced a requirement that customers will have to wear masks beginning on Monday, Inslee said the state is still evaluating the benefit of using masks before deciding whether to make it a broader requirement. He said his order will continue to require social distancing of at least six feet in public places.
During a media appearance, Inslee reviewed a host of health-related metrics he regularly reviews to make decisions on reopening the state economy. Though he did not reveal the length of any extension of the order, Inslee said he would maintain it for now to avoid the possibility of an increase in coronavirus infections across the state.
“We do not want to go through this pain again,” he said. “The fundamental policy we’re following is let’s just do this once.”
Inslee said social distancing requirements would need to continue to keep infection rates down and falling below the current rate of up to 200 new cases per day statewide. The charts he showed revealed decreases in hospitalization and fatality rates from the disease since peak levels in March.
Regardless, Inslee said he wants to see further reductions in infection rates.
“We have made progress, but we know this disease will come roaring back if we abandon our current operations,” he said.