SEATTLE — Public health officials and researchers said Monday social distancing appears to be helping slow the spread of COVID-19 in the Seattle area, where many of the first U.S. deaths occurred, but Gov. Jay Inslee says that the public still needs to be prepared for the state’s current two-week stay-at-home order to be extended.
Inslee issued a stay-at-home order last week that is in effect through April 6, and ordered all nonessential businesses to close through at least April 8. The latest orders expanded previous actions taken by Inslee that ordered the statewide closure of bars, dine-in restaurants, and entertainment and recreation facilities and banned large gatherings. The state released a website Monday where people can report violations of non-essential businesses operating. Inslee said residents should not call 911 to report individuals or private groups who are not following the proclamation, but should instead contact local law enforcement.
Inslee said that while no final decision has been made on extending the order, “it is very highly likely that there will be some further measures.”
“While we may have had some success in some parts of our state to some degree, a modest degree of bending the curve down of the rate of acceleration of the virus, we have some disturbing news in other places in the state,” he said, citing some counties, including Skagit, Adams and Island, where the percentage of tests that came back positive this week were two to three times higher than positive results in the previous week.
“It is very alarming to us, and indicates that we have to refocus our attention, redouble our efforts and stay on top of this effort,” Inslee said.
More than 65,000 people have been tested for coronavirus in Washington, according to the state Department of Health. More than 4,800 have tested positive and at least 195 people have died.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in several weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.