Washington is facing new coronavirus restrictions
OLYMPIA, WA — As of 11:59 p.m. Monday night, a new suite of coronavirus restrictions have been implemented across Washington state, limiting customer capacity at stores, and banning social gatherings with people from outside the household, among other changes.
The new restrictions, announced by Gov. Jay Inslee during a rare Sunday news conference, are intended to curb the recent explosion of new coronavirus cases in Washington before they overwhelm the state’s medical system.
“I’m announcing a series of measures that will give us reasonable hope that the success we enjoyed last spring can be replicated in reducing the horrific rate of transmission,” Inslee said Sunday. “We know these measures can work.”
Washington has seen an unprecedented spike in new confirmed coronavirus cases. Sunday’s update from the State Department of Health confirmed that Washington had broken the record number of daily cases now for the third day in a row with 2,309 new cases. To help put the number in perspective, before this latest COVID-19 surge, Washington’s record high daily case count was 1,058, set on July 6 during the second surge of coronavirus infections this summer.
Other metrics aren’t doing much better. As of the latest update to the state’s COVID-19 Risk Assessment Dashboard, there have been 162.2 newly diagnosed coronavirus infections per 100,000 Washington residents over the past two weeks. That’s more than six times the state’s goal of fewer than 25 diagnoses. The same update shows that 62 percent of the state’s hospital beds are currently occupied, a percentage that is likely to rise as spikes in hospitalizations typically lag behind spikes in new infections by a few weeks. That’s why Dr. Kathy Lofy, the state health officer, says the state has to act immediately to prevent hospitals from overflowing.
“Flattening the curve is essential to saving lives and ensuring our hospitals don’t become overwhelmed with COVID cases like we’re seeing in many hospitals in the Midwest and elsewhere in the county,” Lofy said. “If we act now, we can be successful.”