After a weekend that included a potentially infectious protest in Olympia and a Monday rife with speculation about when Washington's stay-at-home measures would be rolled back, governor Jay Inslee outlined the state's coronavirus recovery plan on Tuesday night. Any partiers hoping Inslee's announcement would justify some Cinco de Mayo revelry were undoubtedly disappointed.
Though it leaves some wiggle room about the specifics of the state's response, the plan confirms that many of the restrictions currently in place as part of Inslee's “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order will remain in effect past their current May 4 expiration date. “It will look more like the turning of the dial than the flip of a switch,” Inslee says of reversing restrictions. “We’re going to take steps and then monitor to see whether they work or if we must continue to adapt.”
Scientific findings and data, including a continued drop in the virus’s transmission, will guide these decisions, according to Inslee. Here are a few other takeaways from his plan.
We still don’t know what life will look like exactly on May 5. Will stay-at-home linger well into May? Will restaurants be open for in-house dining anytime soon? The plan didn’t provide answers to these questions, and its language about which businesses will be phased back in first is rather vague. But the brief does note that large gatherings will still be banned, so don’t expect the Sounders or Storm to play in front of the masses anytime soon. Teleworking and distance learning will also continue. On a positive note: Elective surgeries, construction work, and some forms of outdoor recreation are coming back.
We don’t have enough testing yet to adequately support contact tracing. Even in Washington, a state that has been lauded for its testing operations, supply shortages have capped processing at around 4,000 tests per day, according to Inslee’s office. It says that number must rise to somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 if we want to comprehensively determine who has the virus and who may have crossed its path. The state is currently building a team to track close contacts with those infected. Patient interviews and phone calls are traditionally used to contact-trace; no word on whether we’ll harness any of our local tech powers' data to controversially help with that effort.
Aid to vulnerable populations and affected businesses can’t end when daily virus deaths do. Until we have a vaccine, it’s safe to say the economy here and elsewhere won’t be thriving. That impacts everyone, but especially those already struggling. The governor's plan doesn't make any specific promises but vows to, for instance, build up the state's food supply. “We need to reckon with the reality that disparities in our communities mean not every family can recovery as quickly as others,” says Inslee. “Disparities in access have already been exposed in ways not seen in modern times.”