PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said he’s “delighted” with the percentage of state employees who have complied with the vaccine mandate.
Inslee said Thursday that nearly 91% of state employees had verified their fully vaccinated status and more than 3% had received accommodation, while 2.9% of employees chose not to comply. The governor said he expects the number of people complying with the mandate to continue to rise as the remaining employees work to get fully vaccinated, seek accommodation, or whose statuses are pending for other reasons such as retirement.
Inslee said he expects the FDA to approve the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11 in the next week. He added that 300,000 children’s doses are currently on their way to Washington. Meanwhile, the Washington Department of Health is working with schools and healthcare providers in preparation.
“I could not be more delighted in the progress we made with public employees becoming vaccinated and now children have increasing access to this vaccine, we ought to be able to get on top of this virus,” he said.
In recent months, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have declined but Inslee said the numbers “remain very high” with a daily average of more than 2,000 cases.
“We’ve experienced a plateauing of the numbers rather than a decline, this is very worrisome,” he said.
Inslee said hospitals across the state remain stressed, preventing people from getting important elective surgeries.
“We still have an extremely dangerous pandemic on our hands,” said the governor. “We really have reached a fork in the road for our state: are we going to accept COVID, allow it to run wild, or are we going to continue to fight it — and that’s a definite decision for the State of Washington. Every day, I believe we should fight it, we should not surrender to it. We should continue our efforts to utilize this life-saving vaccine. We have the tools to beat this virus, and we ought to use them.”
Inslee was joined at Thursday’s press conference by Lacy Fehrenbach of the Washington State Department of Health and Nick Streuli with the governor’s office.
Inslee also spoke about climate change and the state’s efforts to combat its effects. He said he will travel to Glasgow, Scotland next week to represent the State of Washington at COP26 and lead a coalition of governors and mayors from around the world in an effort to jointly respond to climate change with their own actions, instead of relying upon federal governments alone.
“I don’t think it’s any hyperbole to say that the fate of our species will be decided in the next several years,” Inslee said. “We know it is not only our moral obligation, it remains a tremendous economic opportunity for our state.”
The governor said he will be asking for additional measures during the next legislative sessions to restrain the use of fossil fuels, including natural gas “in some circumstances.”