Washington governor extends state’s coronavirus stay-home order

Washington Governor Inslee

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee on Thursday announced an extension of his emergency stay-home order through the end of May 4, to halt the spread of the new coronavirus.

Thursday’s announcement extends by nearly a month Inslee’s order that closed many businesses, public schools and much of Washington’s society as the state continues to battle cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.

The extension means the entire stay-home order will remain in effect a full six weeks, through 11:59 pm, on Monday, May 4 (0659 GMT May 5).

That makes Tuesday, May 5 the first day for businesses and other activities to open back up. First announced on March 23, the stay-at-home order is aimed at keeping people indoors and restricting as much interaction as possible.

Some businesses deemed essential – like grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores – remain open. The order also kept in place and strengthened earlier restrictions, temporarily banning sporting events, concerts and going to gyms, bars, and nail salons.

Restaurants can still provide takeout but are otherwise closed. A host of other businesses are considered “non-essential” and are shuttered. Many construction projects have fallen silent.

Since announcing the original stay-home order, Inslee has made a handful of clarifications that re-opened some activities. The governor previously lifted a ban on funerals, though they are still tightly restricted.

And in an update this week, he deemed essential other businesses like automotive repair shops, private campgrounds and commercial fishing and geoduck operations. In that order, the governor also named some automotive sales and leasing activities as essential, along with renewable energies.

Still, the coronavirus pandemic has brought economic activity – across the nation and in Washington – to a shuddering halt.

More than 180,000 state residents last week filed for unemployment insurance. There have been glimmers of hope showing that the social-distancing measures being practiced may be having a positive effect in Washington.

As of Thursday, there were 6,585 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 262 deaths, according to the state department of Health, or DOH.

Meanwhile, Washington medical workers remain short of personal protective gear – such as gloves, gowns, masks and face shields – to protect them on the frontlines of the outbreak.

Inslee on Wednesday called on manufacturing companies in the state to switch over to producing those items, if possible, as well as components needed for test kits.

The governor has stressed that without adequate testing capabilities, it will be hard for the state to lift all its restrictions. (NAN)

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