Friday May 1st Governor Inslee presented the details and thinking behind the new extensions of his Stay Home Stay Healthy order to begin on Monday May 4, 2020 referring to the shift as “starting our Careful Phase”.   He outlined how WA businesses will reopen in 4 phases (see PhasedReopeningChart)   Several smaller counties will be able to apply to the Department of Health (DOH) for a variance of the order to continue with some other operations.

The Governor emphasized that ALL of WA needs to realize we have not won the fight against Covid.  “Many businesses have to stay closed. This new Order extends through 5/31 and I cannot tell you we will be free-to-go on June 1.  We have to adapt and allow based upon facts and considerations.”

Governor Inslee explained that the DOH & Institute for Disease are closely monitoring the situation, and though the transmission rate for central Puget Sound is down, we must remain cautious & well informed.  “Reduction in King County would not remain if we abandoned our social distancing habits.”

Addressing all families of the over 800 people who were lost to Covid-19, the Governor assure them their loved ones will never be just a number. “Some argue that this is over-exaggerated and to those I ask them to consider what it is like to lose a loved one.  6 weeks ago we didn’t know anything about this and now US have lost more than in Vietnam.  There is no economic health without public health.

Phase 1 of the document conveys “where we are today with minor changes”:
  • Modifications to construction and fishing,
  • mid-May retail curbside pick-up,
  • car-washes and auto sales,
  • more outdoor activities but still ban on large gatherings.  “Even those where you THINK you can be socially distant.”
The Governor’s point was clear “Our return to normal will not look like what it did before this hit us until we have a vaccine.”  At that point in time work and entertainment will have all restrictions lifted.  Additional clarity was offered stating that cities and counties can be stricter than even what the State’s Stay Home Stay Healthy ordinance has mandated.
DATA will determine as we move from one phase to another. 
Another graphic presented showed Selections of 5 Dials to monitor:  Infection Disease Status itself; Testing Capacity & Availability; Case & Contact Investigation Capability; Risk to Vulnerable Populations; Health Care System Readiness.  “None of these Dials are in the Safety Zone right now.  3 weeks AT LEAST MINIMUM and it may be much more given the nature of this disease.
PPE (personal protective equipment) for many industries will be needed.  Washingtonians can expect regional differences and impacts, and know State agencies will be mindful of counties with lower number of cases – those will be allowed to explore moving sooner to phase 2.
More densely populated areas will be more difficult.
“We have a lot to be proud of in WA.  Our early success is because of your commitment to social distancing.  We have slowed the progress of the disease but we cannot stop our efforts or this will jump back up and bight us!”  WA residents can support essential workers by contributing to the WA Mask Challenge and providing homemade cloth masks to donate.
Questions followed his presentation provided some additional clarity.  
Testing number targets will vary depending on the status of the disease.  WA need to do about 20,000 tests a day, hopefully we can get there in less than a month if the Federal government supplies the million test kits they said they will provide us shortly.  “However that # will increase as we move forward – YES need more as moving forward.  People returning to work will need to be tested frequently.  The need [to test] will grow over time.”
Smaller counties process for waiver
Local health dept. makes decision if they want to move to Stage 2.   If so, county commissioners will submit plans to DOH and show good surge capacity on hospitals and PPE, to be given permission to move forward.
Governor Inslee emphasized “This is all so frustrating for all of us, so much so WE DO NOT WANT TO DO IT TWICE!  So let’s be cautious and do it right.”