PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — All eight regions in Washington are in Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan and will temporarily be barred from moving backward, Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday.
Inslee said a decline in COVID-19 infection rates in recent weeks led him to place a pause on a region’s ability to slide back into Phase 1. He said state leaders will continue working with experts on how to continue moving forward in the next few weeks based on the latest scientific information.
Washington’s average daily case numbers have come down from 3,000 just a couple of months ago to under 1,000 today, Inslee said. He thanked residents for “wearing masks and being safe” to bring numbers down.
Inslee’s overall tone was one of hope but he warned residents to remain cautious now that “we’re so close to victory.”
Over 1 million Washington residents have now been vaccinated. Inslee said the state is at capacity to administer 45,000 doses every day and is now waiting on increased dose shipments to match their pace. He praised the Biden administration for steadily increasing the state’s weekly allocation of vaccines and said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could become available the week after it’s approved.
Dr. Scott Lindquist also spoke at the press conference, backing up Inslee’s promise to continue moving the state’s regions forward in the reopening plan based on the latest data regarding transmission rates, cases, hospitalizations and deaths, as well as information about the new variants of the coronavirus.
Several variants have been confirmed in Washington, Inslee said. He said international research shows the current vaccines are effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths, even against the new variants.
Last week, Inslee said Washington students are going back to the classroom.
“We can have on site education in a safe and effective way, and this is great news for all of us,” Inslee said. “The CDC has confirmed what our educators have discovered, which is that this can be done safely.”
He said he has been working with the Department of Health to share tools for schools to have resources.