Tuesday, May 26, 2020
May 26, 2020

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Inslee cites better coronavirus projections for Washington in his decision to return federal ventilators

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OLYMPIA — Favorable changes in coronavirus projections for Washington factored into the state’s decision to send 400 ventilators away to be used elsewhere, Gov. Jay Inslee said Monday.

Those projections — along with ventilators purchased by the state now en route — mean Washington is expected to have enough of the gear to meet state needs during the outbreak, Inslee said in a news conference.

The federal government shipped Washington 500 ventilators in response to the state’s original request for 1,000. The governor announced Sunday he would send them back to the stockpile, to help out harder-hit states such as New York.

Inslee said he appreciated the federal government’s shipment of the gear, but Washington’s request came when the state was assuming a more dire situation.

“That was based on some early projections on what we anticipated that curve to look like, in our hospitalization rate and our fatality rate,” Inslee said.

Those early assumptions projected cases could double every week, but, “fortunately that has not occurred,” he said.

“We are very confident that we will have adequate ventilator capacity in the state of Washington,” added the governor. “And I would not have made this decision if we did not have that high level of confidence.”

The 400 ventilators being returned came from the federal government’s Strategic National Stockpile. State officials have said they aren’t the type needed to treat patients who are seriously ill with COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.

Still, they can be used on other patients with breathing problems, freeing more high-powered equipment to respond to the coronavirus.

Inslee said he based his decision on the modeling, and consulted several people, including the state epidemiologist and Raquel Bono, the state’s coronavirus health care “czar.”

“So once we saw that it was very likely that we would have enough ventilator capacity, we freed that up for other Americans who might be struggling for breath right now in other states,” Inslee said.

Hundreds of ventilators purchased by the state are coming in the next days and weeks, the governor said, some of which will be able to help coronavirus patients.

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