Governor Jay Inslee announced at Thursday’s press conference he is restricting gatherings in Phase 3 from 50 to 10 people to help curb the spread of the coronavirus and said multiple times that another stay-home order is possible.
Counties in modified Phase 1 or Phase 2 of the state’s Safe Start plan may continue to have social gatherings with five people or less. However, counties in Phase 3 can now only have social gatherings with 10 people or less. Previously, counties in Phase 3 could have gatherings up to 50 people.
The governor said the changes are in direct response to the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases across Washington. As of today, the seven-day rolling average is 629 cases per day and the state is averaging 115 cases per 100,000 people.
“We have a problem that can be addressed by individual action, and too many aren’t exercising the caution necessary,” said Inslee. “The disease is spreading at social gatherings that are happening sporadically across the state, and we don’t want to look like Arizona or Texas. We cannot let our guard down even as we engage in more activities.”
The state is also prohibiting all live indoor and outdoor entertainment to help curb the spread of COVID-19. These new rules will go into effect Monday. The new rules, however, will not impact weddings, funerals and spiritual services.
Inslee said as citizens venture out and have small social gatherings, they need to wear face masks and continue to physical distance from each other. He also recommended having gatherings outdoors over indoor ones. He also said multiple times he’s not ruling out another stay-at-home order if individuals don’t mask up and follow the mandates.
Washington continues to see a rise in coronavirus cases and it’s most commonly spread at social gatherings, according to Secretary of Health John Wiesman.
Wiesman said during the week of June 26-July 2, the state averaged 629 new COVID-19 cases every day. He said it’s the highest rate of COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began.
There are currently 43,046 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state, including 1,421 deaths. A total of 733,886 people have been tested for the coronavirus and of those, 5.9 percent of the tests came back positive for COVID-19.
“You can only be with five people outside your household,” Inslee said. “Doing things outside are safer than inside. Keep wearing masks. We’ve had a significant surge in COVID cases with young people and we are seeing an explosion of this virus during this pandemic.”
Answering a reporter’s question, Inslee said: “If trends continue we have to look at what is least essential to our economy. We could limit restaurants, bars, by we have to be confident our mask requirements will be enough to reduce this rate. At the moment, school opening is in great question. Something has to change dramatically so we don’t have to issue another stay-at-home order.”