PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Governor Jay Inslee announced new restrictions for college campuses during a press conference on Tuesday.
The new restrictions come on the heels of reports that the virus is surging across the state. Inslee said COVID-19 cases in Washington state are four times higher than the goal.
“COVID-19 can penetrate any social bubble,” he said during a press conference on Tuesday as he urged Washingtonians to continue to social distance.
The new rules for higher education institutions include no congregant sleeping areas, like sleeping porches, in Greek Life housing and mask wearing at all times except inside dorm rooms.
Washington State Department of Health officials said data points to widespread disease transmission ahead of a “fall surge,” instead of localized outbreaks.
“A surge in cases right now could have very serious consequences for our healthcare system, local plans to open schools, the state’s economic recovery, and beyond,” officials said in a press release Tuesday morning.
Clark County case numbers increasing rapidly
Clark County is among the current problem spots in Washington state. Scientists say for schools and businesses to effectively more toward something closer to normal, COVID cases need to be between 25-75 cases per 100,000 people. But in Clark County, that number is 115 cases — up from 90 cases just two weeks ago.
County health officials said the trend lines have been moving up since Labor Day and they believe what we’re seeing is likely a fall surge in cases. They worry that as the weather starts to cool, people will start meeting with their friends and family more indoors.
“They are concerning trends we are seeing and we want people to know sooner rather than later,” said Washington Chief Science Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy. “We are heading in the wrong direction, so we acn all take action to reverse this trend.”
And there is plenty people can do to reverse this trend. Washington health officials say wearing a mask at work and at home when people visit will help, as will wearing one in the car when there is a passenger.
When people visit your home, even in the colder weather scientists say it’s a good idea to meet outside. But if you have to be inside, open your windows and make sure the air circulates.
Bottom line: Warm coats and long underwear will be more important than ever this year as we work together to fight the surge of the novel coronavirus.
As of Monday, the state of Washington had recorded 98,661 confirmed/presumptive cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began in March. To date, 2,258 people have died in the state from the coronavirus.
On Oct. 13, Inslee announced that five counties were allowed to move onto Phase 2 of his reopening plan. Those counties were Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Franklin and Yakima counties.
“We know cases have started to tick back up across the state. None of us are out of the woods, but these counties have made tremendous progress over the last few months,” Inslee said.
On Oct. 8, Inslee made two announcements regarding the pandemic response. He announced the extension of a moratorium on evictions through Dec. 31 at the same time he announced new grants for business owners.