NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, March 11th, 2020

COVID-19 Update: Governor Jay Inslee prohibits large public gatherings (250+)

It’s time for anoth­er install­ment of of our spe­cial series COVID-19 Update, bring­ing you the lat­est devel­op­ments on the nov­el coro­n­avirus out­break that pub­lic health author­i­ties in the Pacif­ic North­west are work­ing dili­gent­ly to mit­i­gate. Unlike some of the non­sense that is unfor­tu­nate­ly cir­cu­lat­ing on social media, all the infor­ma­tion you’ll find here is accu­rate and based on sound sci­ence.

Today marked the begin­ning of a new phase in the Pacif­ic North­west­’s efforts to com­bat the virus. Life around here has already been dis­rupt­ed to a sig­nif­i­cant extent by COVID-19. Now it’s set to be dis­rupt­ed even more.

With­in hours of the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion’s announce­ment that the coro­n­avirus out­break is now con­sid­ered a glob­al pan­dem­ic, Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee held a news con­fer­ence with the coun­ty exec­u­tives of the state’s three largest coun­ties and the may­ors of their largest con­stituent cities to announce a pro­hi­bi­tion on pub­lic gath­er­ings of two hun­dred and fifty or more peo­ple.

“Start­ing today [and last­ing until at least March 31st], events that take place in King, Sno­homish, and Pierce coun­ties with more than 250 peo­ple are pro­hib­it­ed by the state,” Inslee’s announce­ment explains. “This order applies to gath­er­ings for social, spir­i­tu­al and recre­ation­al activ­i­ties. These include but are not lim­it­ed to: com­mu­ni­ty, civic, pub­lic, leisure, faith-based, or sport­ing events; parades; con­certs; fes­ti­vals; con­ven­tions; fundrais­ers and sim­i­lar activ­i­ties.”

“This is an unprece­dent­ed pub­lic health sit­u­a­tion and we can’t wait until we’re in the mid­dle of it to slow it down,” the Gov­er­nor said. “We’ve got to get ahead of the curve. One main defense is to reduce the inter­ac­tion of peo­ple in our lives.”

“We rec­og­nize this new lim­i­ta­tion will impact thou­sands of peo­ple, their plans, and their invest­ments in these events,” Inslee added. “How­ev­er, this is one of the most pru­dent choic­es we can make to keep peo­ple safe in this rapid­ly evolv­ing health cri­sis. We want to do all we can to pro­tect Wash­ing­to­ni­ans.”

Governor Jay Inslee announces COVID-19 restrictions

Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee speaks at a news con­fer­ence with local offi­cials to announce pro­hi­bi­tion on large pub­lic gath­er­ings (Pho­to: Office of the Gov­er­nor)

The region’s pro sports teams pledged to com­ply with the order.

“As the devel­op­ments sur­round­ing COVID-19 in our region evolve, Seat­tle Sounders FC has been work­ing in real time with region­al health author­i­ties and gov­ern­ment offi­cials to do our part in com­bat­ing this pub­lic health cri­sis. Our orga­ni­za­tion must remain flex­i­ble in these efforts, and at this time, that includes heed­ing Gov­er­nor Inslee’s call to post­pone our home match on March 21st ver­sus FC Dal­las at Cen­tu­ryLink Field,” the Sounders announced.

“The WHL ful­ly under­stands and respects the posi­tion tak­en by Wash­ing­ton State Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee today and will com­ply with the pub­lic gath­er­ing require­ments for the upcom­ing WHL home games of the Seat­tle Thun­der­birds and Everett Sil­ver­tips,” com­ment­ed WHL Com­mis­sion­er Ron Robi­son. “We take the safe­ty of our play­ers, offi­cials, staff, fans, and every­one asso­ci­at­ed with the WHL very seri­ous­ly, and will take every step nec­es­sary to assist in con­tain­ing this virus.”

“Fol­low­ing Wash­ing­ton Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee’s announce­ment this morn­ing that he is ban­ning large group events through March, the Seat­tle Mariners are work­ing with the Major League Base­ball Office of the Com­mis­sion­er on alter­na­tive plans for our games that were sched­uled for the end of March [includ­ing Open­ing Day] at T‑Mobile Park in Seat­tle,” the club said in a state­ment. “While we hope to be back to play­ing base­ball in Seat­tle as soon as pos­si­ble, the health and safe­ty of our com­mu­ni­ty is the most impor­tant con­sid­er­a­tion.”

The Taco­ma Dome is can­cel­ing all events through March 31st.

The venue offered the fol­low­ing response:

“We will adhere to this man­dat­ed order and fol­low the expert guid­ance of pub­lic health author­i­ties. We are review­ing each sched­uled event due to hap­pen dur­ing the month of March and will pro­vide an update on new dates for these events as quick­ly as pos­si­ble. Tick­ets will be hon­ored for the new dates. Pur­chasers unable to attend resched­uled dates should con­tact their point of pur­chase.”

Many church­es are mak­ing plans to livestream their litur­gies if they are not doing so already. Meet­ings, con­fer­ences, and oth­er assem­blies are being can­celed en masse by their orga­niz­ers, or resched­uled to lat­er dates.

Pri­or to the Gov­er­nor’s announce­ment, we at NPI imple­ment­ed our con­tin­gency plan for our 2020 Spring Fundrais­ing Gala on April 17th. The gala is now an online-only event. Tick­ets remain avail­able on our gala page.

In-per­son gala tra­di­tions will con­tin­ue at a new sea­son­al event that NPI will hold in the fall, assum­ing that the cur­rent pub­lic health cri­sis has abat­ed by then.

While the gov­er­nor’s pro­hi­bi­tion on pub­lic gath­er­ings only lasts through the end of March, we can see it being extend­ed through April as well. The cur­rent sit­u­a­tion is unfor­tu­nate­ly more like­ly to get worse before it gets bet­ter. Even if we imple­ment social dis­tanc­ing mea­sures here in our region, the coro­n­avirus could con­tin­ue to spread else­where unless oth­er states and regions adopt sim­i­lar mea­sures.

That’s why it is so impor­tant that oth­er juris­dic­tions fol­low our lead. If you’re else­where in the coun­try, pay atten­tion to what we’re doing. These mea­sures could be adopt­ed by your state, your coun­ty, your city, your town very soon.

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2 Pings

  1. […] Wash­ing­ton Gov­er­nor Inslee has used the author­i­ty vest­ed in him by the Con­sti­tu­tion and the Revised Code of Wash­ing­ton to issue an order pro­hibit­ing pub­lic gath­er­ings of two hun­dred and fifty peo­ple or more. […]

  2. […] Scam­mer and dis­graced ini­tia­tive pur­vey­or Tim Eyman has jus­ti­fi­ably been tak­ing a lot of flak dur­ing the past thir­­ty-six hours for mak­ing irre­spon­si­ble jokes about the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic and urg­ing his fol­low­ers to join him in dis­re­gard­ing Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee’s recent pro­hi­bi­tion on large pub­lic gath­er­ings. […]

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