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.”
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.
“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.