PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Washington Governor Jay Inslee addressed the media with an update on the COVID-19 situation in a press conference on Thursday.
The press conference came four days after Governor Inslee announced his sweeping stay-at-home order on Monday.
“We have seen overwhelming compliance,” said Inslee on Thursday. “Washingtonians know how to take on a challenge. We may be hunkered down but we are not locked down. You can do things essential to your livelihoods.”
However, he said it’s important to realize this way of life could go longer than anyone would like.
“It is very clear that we need to bend our shoulders to the task,” said Inslee. “We are only in the first two weeks and people need to understand [the order] may be extended. We cannot let up on this virus.”
Even if the infection rate begins to look more promising in some areas of the state, it’s important to ensure the virus does not have a chance to come back once any stay-at-home orders are lifted.
“As to when we reduce some of the requirements — clearly it’s not now and not in the upcoming days. These numbers will continue to rise. We have to contain this until we are positive this virus is not going to come roaring back,” said Inslee. “That is a distinct possibility. I’m letting people know this order may go beyond two weeks and they have to be prepared for that.”
Inslee introduced the “stay home” order for the state during a Monday evening address, which aired live online and started shortly after 5:30 p.m. “This is Washington’s ‘stay home, stay healthy’ order,” said Inslee, in reference to the stay-home order that Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued.
When asked about the federal aid package that was passed on Thursday, Governor Inslee said he believes more aid will eventually need to come.
“I suspect more will have to be done on the financial side,” he said. “If you look at the unemployment numbers that are cascading in by the thousands, this is going to be a deep trench that we have to get over and I suspect we are going to have to do significantly more.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, the state has 2,580 diagnosed cases with 280 deaths — more than 90% of those patients were over the age of 60, half of them being over 80.
Inslee’s “Stay Home” order includes a ban on all gatherings for “social, spiritual, and recreational purposes” and requires businesses to close, “unless those businesses are essential to the healthy functioning of our community or are able to let employees work remotely from home.” This order builds on the steps Inslee has already taken to curb the spread of the coronavirus such as closing schools, restaurants, and entertainment halls across the state.
The new order is legally enforceable, according to Inslee.
“This is a pandemic that threatens to overwhelm our society,” said Inslee during his Monday address. “Its time to hunker down in order to win this fight.”
The essential businesses that are exempt from this order were chosen largely based on federal guidelines and include: emergency services, health care industries, critical manufacturing, childcare providers, food and agriculture, transportation, financial services, defense industries, the media, and local government operations.