PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Non-emergency medical and dental procedures can resume in Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee announced at a press conference Monday afternoon.
Each medical or dental practice will assess their own readiness and their communities’ COVID-19 activity to determine whether, and to what degree, they will reopen, the governor said.
He said some of the first steps to reopening include allowing non-urgent procedures and dental offices to open. The reopening plan includes guidelines for social distancing in waiting rooms, temperature checks and other measures to ensure safety of patients and healthcare workers.
The health care services reopening and readiness will be based on 3 standards of care: availability of PPE, hospital capacity and more.
Despite beginning the reopening process, Inslee urged caution from Washingtonians.
“Our health care system was one of the first in the nation to be hit with COVID-19 cases when there was much we were still learning about the novel virus. Because of the great work of our health care system and communities, we managed the peak of COVID-19 activity in April without having a crisis in our hospitals,” Inslee said. “This plan was developed with many partners in our health care delivery system — including nurses, surgeons, pediatricians, dentists, community health clinics and hospitals.”
Inslee was joined by Multicare President/CEO Bill Robertson, Washington State Nurses Association Executive Director Sally Watkins and Dr. Raquel Bono, the director of the Washington state COVID-19 health care response.
Last week, Inslee announced a contact tracing initiative in Washington, ordered a state hiring freeze over mounting financial difficulties connected with the pandemic, and met with business leaders to discuss re-opening different sectors of the economy.
On Saturday, the death toll from the coronavirus reached 1000 in Washington state. The Department of Health also reported that 18,288 cases of the virus had been diagnosed.
For the week of May 3-9, Washington saw total overall unemployment claims increase 20% from the previous week. In raw numbers, a total of 109,425 people filed new claims in Washington state that week. Since the pandemic began, 1,301,564 total unemployment claims were filed in the state, which has paid nearly $2.9 billion in claims during that time.