OLYMPIA, WA — Governor Jay Inslee on Tuesday reaffirmed his support for the updated face covering mandate, which requires businesses to refuse service to any customer not wearing one, saying it will help curb growing COVID-19 infections rates, which have been reported as spiking throughout the state.
Inslee made his comments during an afternoon news conference and was joined remotely by Dr. Kathy Lofy, the state’s public health officer during the session.
“It’s hard to believe how far we have come, and we’re only half way through 2020,” Inslee said. “This fight has been tough, it’s been unpredictable. And we know it has been very tiring for all of us — for our families, for our workers and our businesses, as well. Last week, I announced a pause on reopening phases because of the increasing COVID-19 activity … We have made progress in this fight and that’s good news. I want to reopen our economy. I want to reopen our businesses. I want for people to be able to go back to work.”
Some highlights from the address:
• Regarding COVID-19 spikes: “If these trends were to continue we could have to be prepared to go back to where we were in March. But, there is good news: We have made great progress in this fight but there is more to do …”
• Some other points Inslee made: “The rate of positivity is increasing in regions. It had been at 3.8% but now it’s at 5% or higher. According to the WHO, if it’s higher than 5% a country shouldn’t lift restrictions. We will keep that in mind.”
• The state is imposing a two-week pause on all county requests to advance to a higher phase.
• Some counties still in phase 1 would be allowed to move to a modified version of phase 1, allowing for private construction projects to resume and more customers can be served at restaurants and bars. The order will apply to Yakima, Benton and Franklin counties.
• He also blasted President Trump several times: “We have a president who tries to deceive Americans about this topic. Six days ago he said this virus is going away. He said a version of that 19 times. This virus will only go away if we make it go away.”
• Bar service would be removed for those counties in phase 3, although establishments can still provide bar seating areas for their customers.
• In response to a reporter regarding cases spiking, he said: “We might have to go back and close some of these businesses, and we do not want to do that. We want to continue opening.”