Thursday, September 24, 2020
Sept. 24, 2020

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Decision on extending stay home order in Washington, activating National Guard expected ‘in day or so’

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OLYMPIA — A decision on whether to extend Washington’s stay-home order and closure of nonessential businesses is likely soon, and with it could come activation of some National Guard units.

Gov. Jay Inslee is continuing to examine data on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and listen to top advisers, David Postman, his chief of staff, told reporters Tuesday afternoon. The stay-home order expires next Monday, and the order requiring only people with jobs deemed essential to come to work expires April 8.

A decision on the next step will be made in “the next day or so,” Postman said. If the order is extended, it could be tightened or loosened in some aspects, depending on circumstances. Although the current order is for 14 days, a new order could be open-ended.

The Washington National Guard could be called into a support role, but not for law enforcement duties. The guard could be tapped for its expertise in logistics, distribution and transportation, Postman said.

“If we had a request, or needed them, (Inslee) could do that,” he said.

After Inslee announced Monday the state will accept complaints of nonessential businesses that were staying open despite the closure order, the website received more than 4,000 complaints in the first day.

State and local officials will get to the businesses named in the complaints as soon as they can, starting with education on the need to remain closed, followed by the prospect of losing permits or licenses, and eventually a referral to the attorney general’s office if the business remains open.

Washington continues to seek supplies to fight the pandemic, including personal protective equipment, from private suppliers as well as the strategic national stockpile. The state requested 500 ventilators, but Inslee was told Monday night in a conversation with Vice President Mike Pence that it would get 100.

But Washington hospitals have ventilators, and some are available from surgical centers that have closed because elective surgery has been put on hold. The state also has its own stockpile.

There is no shortage of ventilators in Washington hospitals at this point, Postman said.

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