Gov. to end coronavirus emergency status, but some rules stay
SNOHOMISH COUNTY — By Oct. 31, Washington’s official state of emergency for the coronavirus will conclude, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday, Sept. 8, marking a definitive end to pandemic regulations.
Health officials emphasize the virus still is present. It is attributed to more than 10 deaths a day in the state.
But with cases going down, and vaccines widely available, “I am confident now we have reached a significant milestone in the
COVID effort,” Inslee proclaimed at a Sept. 8 media briefing.
A few pandemic rules will survive in place.
One may be masks will still be required in all health care settings statewide. Also, masks will be situationally required at state prisons located in counties where coronavirus transmission is prevalent. (Snohomish County was below the threshold as of last week.)
The state Department of Health is reviewing, a department spokeswoman said.
Inslee said COVID-19 vaccinations will no longer be mandatory to work at schools and health care offices.
Private employers can still require workers to be vaccinated and can still require people to wear masks.
He’s keeping the vaccination mandate as a condition of employment for state government offices to have “healthy workers,” Inslee said.
Although vaccine efficacy is known to wane over time, which is why vaccine boosters are given, the state won’t mandate boosters, Inslee said.
People can protect themselves with vaccines now, Inslee noted for why he’s lifting the orders.
A new round of booster shots meant to work against the newer Omicron BA. 4 and BA.5 variants, shots known as bivalent boosters, became available this month.
The end of the emergency declaration “is not like a curtain coming down on a play,” he said. Inslee has slowly lifted a majority of orders during this year.
Officials now see a future of coexisting with the virus.
“Governor Inslee’s rescission of these remaining emergency orders marks an important transition for the state of Washington, but that does not mean that COVID-19 is not in our state anymore,” state Secretary of Health Dr. Umair A. Shah said in a press release from the governor’s office. “We must move forward from a pandemic response to adapting our behaviors to coexist with the COVID-19 virus. Through the continued diligence of Washingtonians, combined with access to resources like the Say Yes! COVID Test program, WA Notify, and Care-A-Van, we will continue our path to recovery.”
The Care-A-Van is a mobile vaccination van. WA Notify is an app for people to self-declare they’ve tested positive for COVID-19.
Washington is one of the last states to lift its state of emergency; California being the other, from data compiled by the National Academy for State Health Policy.
Coronavirus cases were slowly declining until this week
As of Sept. 13, Snohomish County’s 7-day case rate was 94 cases per 100,000 people, with 784 new cases reported in that span.
The total picture over the past 32 months is staggering.
Snohomish County has accumulated 189,663 cases, of which there were 1,285 deaths attributed to COVID-19 as of Sept. 13.
A little over two years ago, the county had accumulated 6,310 total cases, of which there were 207 deaths, as of Sept. 3, 2020 figures reported by the state. The 7-day case rate per 100,000 residents at the time was 24.8, with 206 cases reported in that span.
New caseload peaks hit in winter 2020 and fall 2021.
The earliest inklings of the disease gained public notice in Dec. 30, 2019 and Jan. 4, 2020 Associated Press wire blurbs. The January blurb, printed in The Seattle Times, reported Hong Kong officials raised alarms of a “viral pneumonia” brought back by visitors of Wuhan, China; by then, quite a few Wuhan residents had been hospitalized. China confirmed human-to-human transmissions Jan. 20, 2020; Wuhan was locked down soon after. The World Health Organization named it COVID-19 in February, and the rest is history.
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