Inslee announces vaccination incentives
As of Friday morning, the U.S. has reported more than 33 million COVID-19 cases and 596,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Worldwide, there have been more than 172 million cases and more than 3.7 million deaths. About 51 percent of people in the U.S. have received at least one vaccine shot, and more than 41 percent are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
Through June 3, Pacific County had 1,047 positive cases and three new cases since May 19. There were 15 active cases in the county and 42 hospitalizations. Pacific County had 12 recorded deaths from COVID-19.
Gov. Jay Inslee announced a suite of new incentives to help encourage unvaccinated Washingtonians to get the COVID shot.
The Washington State Lottery will be conducting a "Shot of a Lifetime" giveaway series during the month of June, working with state agencies, technology companies, sports teams and higher education institutions across the state to offer a myriad of different prizes to vaccinated individuals.
The incentives announced today include Lottery cash drawings, with prizes totaling $2 million; higher education tuition and expense assistance; sports tickets and gear; gift cards, airline tickets, and game systems and smart speakers.
"These generous programs will encourage more Washingtonians to take this life-saving vaccine," Inslee said during a press conference Thursday. "I hope people will see this as an opportunity to reopen even sooner than June 30 if we can stay motivated, stay informed and get more people vaccinated faster throughout the month of June."
Inslee sets June 30 for state reopening
Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday that the state is moving toward a statewide June 30 reopening date and that all counties in Washington will move to Phase 3 of the Healthy WA: Roadmap to Recovery reopening plan effective May 18 until June 30.
The announcement comes after the governor paused phase movement for two weeks to review an emerging flattening trend in statewide COVID-19 data. As of this week, the plateau observed in COVID-19 activity has become a decline.
"What we know now gives us the confidence to close this chapter in this pandemic and begin another," Inslee said at a press conference Thursday. "This next part of our fight to save lives in Washington will focus on increasing vaccination rates and continuing to monitor variants of concern as we move toward reopening our state."
The full reopening could happen earlier than June 30 if 70% or more of Washingtonians over the age of 16 initiate vaccination. Washington has administered over six million doses of vaccine, and 56 percent of Washingtonians have initiated vaccination.
Gov. Jay Inslee signed a dozen bills last Tuesday that will improve accountability for law enforcement in Washington state, and will create the nation's strongest police accountability system. The governor, joined by community members and families of those impacted, signed the bills at the Eastside Community Center in Tacoma.
The governor signed legislation that will create an Office of Independent Investigations that reports to the governor, prohibit certain uses of force and will require more thorough oversight requirements for hiring and for reporting misconduct.
"The crises of the past year have unmasked long-standing inequities in our society. The consciousness of our state and nation has been raised against inequity in many forms," Inslee said. "Our moral mandate to acknowledge these hard truths crystallized in the fallout from the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, and the killing of Manny Ellis in Tacoma. The bills I am signing today respect these truths and lay a solid foundation to halt inequity's pernicious influence in our systems of government."
Gov. Jay Inslee last Tuesday (May 4) announced a two-week pause on movement in the Healthy Washington: Roadmap to Recovery reopening plan. Under the pause, every county will remain in its current phase. At the end of two weeks, each county will be re-evaluated.
The decision was made in consultation with the Department of Health, and reflects current data suggesting Washington's fourth wave has hit a plateau. Case counts and hospitalizations remain high, but the plateau suggests continued adherence to public health guidance and vaccinations could help the state turn the corner.
"We are at the intersection of progress and failure, and we cannot veer from the path of progress," Inslee said Tuesday. "Our economy is beginning to show early signs of growth thanks to some of our great legislative victories and we know vaccines are the ticket to further reopening -- if we adhere to public health until enough people are vaccinated."
For the past several weeks, epidemiologists have been following the state's fourth COVID-19 wave, which now appears to be leveling out. The fourth wave has been less severe and case counts and mortalities have not been tied in rates of increase as they have in the past.
Gov. Jay Inslee Friday approved an update to the guidance documents for Proclamation 20-26, Operations and Visitation, for long term care facilities.
The guidance documents will be amended to align with recent CDC recommendations regarding what infection control practices should be in place when planning for or allowing communal activities, such as group activities or communal dining. The changes will allow residents who are fully vaccinated to choose to have close contact with other fully vaccinated individuals and to not wear source control during the activity. This change reflects the continuing progression towards returning long term care facilities to a more normal state by allowing residents to have greater contact with their fellow residents, reducing the stark social isolation many have faced during the past year.
The changes are effective immediately. The Department of Social Health Services, in partnership with the Department of Health, will also issue a guidance letter to long term care providers notifying them of this change.
Gov. Jay Inslee released a video and statement Sunday on the successes of the 2021 legislative session. The 105-day session ended on Sunday evening with major advances on several of the governor's key priorities.
"The Legislature has just wrapped up an historic and truly extraordinary session. It has been the most innovative, having produced unprecedented and legacy making advances as all-encompassing as any session in the last 25 years," Inslee said. "Washingtonians received progress on climate, progress on equity, progress on our tax system, and progress protecting our workers and families, and more. And all of this was accomplished safely as the COVID-19 pandemic continues."
J & J COVID Vaccine
Gov. Jay Inslee Saturday announced the authorization of resuming the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine by the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup.
The announcement comes after the FDA and CDC also authorized the restart of the J&J COVID vaccine. The Western States Workgroup, composed of vaccine experts from Washington, California, Oregon and Nevada, has met to review the data and analysis to ensure the safety and efficacy of all FDA-authorized vaccines.
Last Thursday, Gov. Jay Inslee conducted his first regular in-person media availability with the Olympia press corps since March 2020, when the pandemic forced press conferences to go virtual. The event was held outside the governor's residence, where Inslee warned of rising cases and encouraged Washingtonians to spend time where the virus struggles to transmit: Outdoors.
"The virus spreads far more easily indoors," Inslee said. "We're asking everyone to think about their actions for the next few weeks especially so we can get through this together. Let's be vested with a can-do spirit here to halt a creeping fourth wave of COVID. Take it outside, mask up, keep your distance."
The latest trends show COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to increase. The state is averaging more than 1,000 new cases a day, up from 700 cases a day in February. Daily hospitalizations in March were in the 30s, but this month have crept into daily averages in the 40s.
Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday updated and clarified the criteria for counties to stay in Phase 3 of the state's Healthy Washington pandemic reopening plan.
Under the plan that took effect March 22, counties are individually evaluated every three weeks. The first evaluation occurs this coming Monday, and changes to a county's phase status take effect Friday, April 16. In addition to being individually evaluated, large and small counties have different sets of appropriate criteria based on case counts and hospitalizations.
In advance of each county's evaluation on Monday to determine its phase, the governor established that:
In order to move down one phase a county must fail both metrics for case counts and hospitalizations. Under the previous plan, a county only needed to fail one metric to move back one phase.
The spectator events guidance is updated to make clear what is allowed for counties in Phase 2 and how these events are related to school graduation ceremonies.
"Given the incredible progress on vaccinations and our focus on protecting people from severe illness, we believe analyzing and requiring both metrics together is the right approach to make sure we're considering the connection between COVID cases and our medical system and hospitalizations," Inslee said.
Case counts and hospitalizations are rising in Washington. This is a concerning trend that is also happening nationally. Vaccines are making a difference in this fight, but millions of Washingtonians still need to be fully vaccinated. About 60,000 doses are being administered daily in Washington, but the governor urged all Washingtonians to be mindful of physical distance, wear masks, and keep gatherings small until COVID activity becomes less of a threat.
Following Monday's evaluation, the next Healthy Washington - Roadmap to Recovery plan evaluation will occur May 3.
Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday announced that effective April 15, all Washingtonians age 16 and up will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
Over the past four months, since Washington began administering doses of the vaccination, the state has followed a tiered eligibility system, beginning with those most at risk of hospitalization and death.
Working Washington Grants
The Washington State Department of Commerce opened applications for Working Washington Grants: Round 4 on March 29. This newest grant round focuses on brick and mortar businesses most directly impacted by COVID-19 public health measures.
Last Friday marked the 75th day of this year's 105-day legislative session and most legislation without a fiscal impact needed to pass out of committee this week to be considered further.
On Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee approved legislation to strengthen the Office of Cybersecurity's ability to protect data across all state agencies. The bill now goes to the House Rules Committee, where it can be pulled to the floor for a vote.
On Friday, legislation that would move Washington state towards regional health districts was voted out of the Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee. The bill, which would improve public health by increasing resources and coordination, now goes to the Senate Ways and Means Committee for further consideration.
More governor-request legislation is scheduled for hearings in the coming days, with a low carbon fuel standard scheduled for a Hearing in Senate Ways and Means on Saturday, and a hearing on establishing an office of independent Investigations in Ways and Means on Tuesday.
The House and Senate also announced their 2021-2023 Budget proposals last week. The 105-day legislative session is set to run through the end of April.
1 Million Washingtonians Fully
Vaccinated; 3 Million Doses Given
Last week, the state crossed two major milestones in its ongoing COVID-19 vaccination efforts: The 1 millionth Washingtonian became fully vaccinated, and the state surpassed more than 3 million doses administered.
Last Friday, Gov. Jay Inslee rescinded his November 2020 Travel Advisory and is advising Washingtonians and others visiting Washington to comply with the Center for Disease Control's current COVID-19 travel advisory guidance.
On November 13, 2020, due to the increasing incidence of COVID-19 in many states and countries, Inslee issued a travel advisory for persons arriving in Washington from out of state, and Washingtonians returning from other states or countries. That document advised: (1) those returning to Washington from other states or countries should self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival; and, (2) it encouraged Washingtonians to avoid non-essential out-of-state travel.
Current CDC guidance is more robust, thorough, and specific than the November 2020 travel advisory, and is regularly updated to reflect the latest science, optimal safety practices and protocols, and the current COVID-19 situation here and abroad.
Inslee Makes Extensions
Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday that the statewide eviction moratorium will be extended through June 30, as well as upcoming vaccine eligibility expansion, including restaurant workers and Washingtonians 60 and older. He also announced that effective immediately, many visitations at long-term care facilities and nursing homes may resume.
In addition, the state Department of Health (DOH) launched a new web tool to help people find open vaccination appointments near them.
"It's another great day to be from Washington state," Inslee said Thursday. "From protecting people's housing to helping people see their loved ones and getting more Washingtonians vaccinated, we're continuing to move forward toward recovery."
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