Jay Inslee, governor of Washington, is extending the state's "stay home, stay healthy" order for another month until May 31. He points to advances in the fight against COVID-19, but warns that the disease will "spring up again and bite us" if the state does not remain vigilant in its efforts to slow its spread.
"We haven't won this fight against this virus," said Inslee, adding, "the new normal isn't here yet."
Inslee revealed a four-phase approach for reopening companies and activities, with some restrictions beginning to relax on May 5 in an initial phase.
(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STrIWRGrR_w (/ embed)
"Look, I understand the frustrations we all shared. It's so frustrating that we don't want to do it twice. That is bad enough. We shouldn't take the risk of doing this twice, ”said Inslee at a press conference on Friday afternoon when asked about concerns from citizens and businesses who want to reopen in the wake of the economic crisis.
The announcement came a day after Amazon informed employees that they had the opportunity to work from home until at least the beginning of October, extending the remote work guide by several months. Inslee said the decision shows that teleworking is an effective alternative for some companies and that remote working will remain part of the mix even after the crisis has ended.
"We don't prescribe this, but we definitely encourage it," said Inslee of Amazon's decision to let employees work from home for an extended period of time.
The state makes decisions based on "hard data and science, not desires," said Inslee.
In addition to monitoring the total number of cases, the state is pushing to increase COVID-19 test capacity beyond the daily tests performed today in the state by approximately 4,000 to 5,000. Inslee said the state has the capacity to process 20,000 tests a day, but expects the federal government to honor its commitments to deliver significantly more test kits to support the volume needed to further relax restrictions.
The governor said that some districts where the disease was not so widespread can request exemptions from the current order.
A reporter asked Inslee what if there was a "mass uprising" against the order. Here's what he said.
It just didn't happen. And you know, the big press representatives always want to fail here. But that's not how we work in Washington. We are looking for success and we experience it. We had the largest Washington association I have ever seen. I am 69 years old and have never seen this state so united. Republicans and Democrats, large majorities want us to continue this effort. Huge majorities appreciate these efforts.
Washington State was the first known US epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in late February and early March, but has fallen 18th among the US states in the total number of COVID-19 cases with 14,327 cumulative cases from this week, or less than 1.5% of the U.S. total of more than 1 million cases. Seattle and King County are responsible for more than 6,000 cases in the state, representing 44% of the state.