SEATTLE, WA — Gov. Jay Inslee is considering extending Washington’s stay-at-home order and could make an announcement later this week, according to the Seattle Times.
Latest: Washington Stay-At-Home Order Will Be Extended, Inslee Confirms
The newspaper reports David Postman, the governor’s chief of staff, said Tuesday a final decision had not been reached but, if an extension was deemed necessary, a new date would be shared soon. On the same press call, the state Secretary of Health said there had been some discussion on a potential timeline for easing restrictions in areas of the state with the lowest number of coronavirus infections.
The governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order went into effect on March 23 and was previously extended through May 4.
Postman’s comments follow new projections released Monday by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. IHME researchers predicted the state could be ready to relax strict social distancing guidelines by May 30, if limits on public gatherings remain intact, and the state shifts to a containment strategy that includes widespread testing, contact tracing and isolation.
Inslee has previously said the state is awaiting an order of 1 million test kits, and a 1,500-member contact tracing team should be ready for deployment by May 11.
In recent news conferences, Inslee has repeatedly said that many restrictions would be necessary beyond May 4, whether or not his statewide order is extended. The governor allowed some construction projects to resume last Friday, on job sites that can guarantee physical distance between workers, provide safety gear and implement enhanced sanitary procedures.
Inslee said Monday some outdoor recreation, including hunting, fishing and day trips to state parks could resume May 5, with appropriate health precautions. Public gatherings, camping, sports and other events will remain prohibited under the new guidelines.
According to the governor, updated modeling has shown that lifting all restrictions too soon will likely lead to the virus’s rebound in Washington, and new infections could surpass previous peak levels.
Despite progress made in slowing the spread of the virus in Washington, Inslee said new the rate of infection has not fallen to the level required to consider a widespread scale-back of social distancing efforts.