Gov. Inslee threatens to move some counties backwards
Only 20% of state residents fully vaccinated, he says
Last updated 4/8/2021 at 5:26pm
OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday, April 8, that moving a county backwards for at least three weeks in his phased reopening plan may provide the impetus to improve vaccination rates.
During his press conference, the governor said there has been a recent increase in coronavirus cases in some counties. And as a result, he’ll be looking at the “numbers” Monday to determine which counties should be bounced backward toward closure.
“This is not judgment day Monday,” he said. “The score is the score… The numbers will be the numbers.”
All counties in the state are currently in Phase 3 of reopening due to his Wuhan coronavirus shutdown mandates.
But if that “dirty little virus” continues to spread, some counties will be pushed back to Phase 2, he said.
“We are just going to count numbers Monday,” he said. Any move backwards would occur next Friday.
During questioning on his potential move toward renewed shutdowns, Gov. Inslee said he is particularly concerned about the lack of coronavirus vaccinations.
As of Thursday, only about 20% of state residents had been fully vaccinated, he said, before using his bully pulpit to chastise families and seniors choosing not to get vaccinated.
“We have over 305,000 Washingtonians today over the age of 65 who still have not been vaccinated,” he said. “This is extremely concerning to us.”
Inslee said residents should trust health care workers and do as they are told – get vaccinated.
“This is a safe and effective vaccine,” the governor said.
Inslee insisted that moving some counties backward to Phase 2 would provide an incentive to increase vaccination rates.
“People will see if we’re going to get back to Phase 3, it will help to get vaccinated,” he said.
According to Lacy Fehrenbach, deputy secretary of health for COVID-19 response, Department of Health officials will review case numbers and hospitalizations Monday.
Those numbers will then be used to shutter or restrict activities in some counties for a minimum of three weeks by next Friday.
“We have, unfortunately, now increasing numbers in our state,” the governor said. “Both the number of hospitalizations and number of infections is going up.”
In addition to the choice not to get vaccinated, Inslee said increasing case numbers are because fewer residents are wearing masks and keeping their distance. Some are even attending “karaoke” parties.
“This letting our guard down is really, really dangerous,” Inslee said, adding a vaccine alone “is not going to bail us out.”
He also said infection rates are increasing because of variants in the virus, including one he called the “British” variant.
The governor’s comments on pushing some counties backward followed his statement that he is “thrilled” students are returning to classrooms.