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.

Monday, March 23rd, 2020

COVID-19 Update: Governors Jay Inslee and Kate Brown issue stay-at-home orders

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 here and through­out the coun­try 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.

Governors: Stay at home — that’s an order

Most Pacif­ic North­west­ern­ers are now under orders to stay at home and be safe from COVID-19 unless they need to obtain food for their house­holds or get exer­cise. Wash­ing­ton Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee and Ore­gon Gov­er­nor Kate Brown today issued so-called “stay at home” orders that build on their ear­li­er orders pro­hibit­ing large pub­lic gath­er­ings, clos­ing schools, and clos­ing restau­rants and bars.

The gov­er­nors had been under increas­ing pres­sure to act after many Pacif­ic North­west­ern­ers failed to take seri­ous­ly the guid­ance of pub­lic health author­i­ties to prac­tice phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing. Crowds have recent­ly been observed by reporters and police at beach­es such as Alki, trails like the one that goes to Rat­tlesnake Ridge, and bas­ket­ball courts in pub­lic parks. Though the gov­er­nors plead­ed with peo­ple to stop irre­spon­si­bly con­gre­gat­ing, too many peo­ple still failed to lis­ten.

And so new orders have been issued.

“We’ve been very clear on the need for every­one to stay home,” Gov­er­nor Inslee said in an evening address from his office. “And, while most Wash­ing­to­ni­ans are doing their part, some still don’t grasp the seri­ous­ness of this pan­dem­ic.”

“We encour­age all Wash­ing­to­ni­ans to fol­low the new guid­ance of Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee and Sec­re­tary of Health John Wies­man. The guid­ance in Stay Home, Stay Healthy is crit­i­cal to lim­it­ing the spread of COVID-19 and help­ing flat­ten the curve of infec­tions. Our behav­ior could mean life or death for Wash­ing­to­ni­ans,” said leg­isla­tive lead­ers in an unusu­al joint state­ment.

The state­ment was attrib­uted to Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Andy Bil­lig (D‑Spokane), Speak­er of the House Lau­rie Jink­ins (D‑Tacoma), Sen­ate Minor­i­ty Leader Mark Schoesler (R‑Ritzville) and House Minor­i­ty Leader JT Wilcox (R‑Yelm) .

“We have already lost Wash­ing­to­ni­ans to this virus. We grieve with their fam­i­lies and stand along­side the peo­ple who are cur­rent­ly bat­tling this ill­ness.”

“We rec­og­nize the impact these deci­sions have on busi­ness­es, fam­i­lies, and indi­vid­u­als across the state. There is no way to over­state the chal­lenge fac­ing our state and our nation. The weeks and months to come will test our will, our val­ues and our courage but our state is resilient. We will get through this.”

“We must work togeth­er, sup­port each oth­er and stay pos­i­tive,” the leg­isla­tive lead­ers added. “Ulti­mate­ly we will emerge from this chal­lenge more unit­ed than ever, pre­pared to build an even stronger Wash­ing­ton.”

Since many busi­ness­es have already closed down — from gyms to bar­ber­shops to restau­rant din­ing rooms — you might be won­der­ing what’s left to close. The new orders con­tin­ue to have carve-outs for what are con­sid­ered essen­tial busi­ness­es.

But there are few­er excep­tions.

The new orders pro­hib­it gath­er­ings large and small of all kinds: pub­lic and pri­vate. That means wed­dings, funer­als, fam­i­ly reunions, birth­day cel­e­bra­tions, din­ner par­ties, sleep­overs, the works. All are pro­hib­it­ed through at least April 6th, 2020.

And any busi­ness that does not meet the tighter def­i­n­i­tion of an “essen­tial busi­ness” must sus­pend oper­a­tions by the end of the day on Wednes­day unless it can con­duct its busi­ness vir­tu­al­ly with employ­ees work­ing from home.

Boe­ing announced that its Puget Sound fac­to­ry oper­a­tions would come to a halt after an IAM Dis­trict Lodge 751 shop stew­ard died of COVID-19.

Read Inslee’s procla­ma­tion:

Jay Insle’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order

The restric­tions announced in Ore­gon are sim­i­lar.

Read Gov­er­nor Kate Brown’s procla­ma­tion:

Gov­er­nor Kate Brown’s order strength­en­ing phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing direc­tives

Why is all this necessary?

Don­ald Trump and oth­er fools who don’t under­stand pub­lic health have ques­tioned the increas­ing­ly restric­tive orders being issued by gov­er­nors like Jay Inslee, Kate Brown, Gavin New­som, Andrew Cuo­mo, Phil Mur­phy, JB Pritzk­er, and Ned Lam­ont, which are result­ing in a shut­down of civic life and eco­nom­ic activ­i­ty.

For exam­ple, Trump tweet­ed:

We can­not let the cure be worse than the prob­lem itself. At the end of the fif­teen day peri­od, we will make a deci­sion as to which way we want to go! (Post­ed to Trump’s Twit­ter account, March 22nd, 2020)

Phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing is not a cure for the nov­el coro­n­avirus, but rather a means of mit­i­gat­ing a dead­ly pan­dem­ic. The rea­son SARS-CoV­‑2 is called a “nov­el” coro­n­avirus is because it’s new. Human bod­ies haven’t encoun­tered this virus before and don’t have an immu­ni­ty to it. That’s why it is such a threat.

The gov­er­nors who issued the stay at home orders want to pro­tect their con­stituents from being infect­ed and killed by the virus. They issued the stay-at-home orders because keep­ing peo­ple apart is the key to pre­vent­ing mas­sive loss of life.

To under­stand how a virus like COVID-19 can wipe out fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties with increas­ing speed, you have to under­stand the con­cept of expo­nen­tial growth.

Expo­nen­tial growth, as defined by Dictionary.com, means the “growth of a sys­tem in which the amount being added to the sys­tem is pro­por­tion­al to the amount already present: the big­ger the sys­tem is, the greater the increase.”

Expo­nen­tial growth explains why it’s tak­ing less and less time for the num­ber of con­firmed COVID-19 cas­es to dou­ble.

With­out phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing, the num­ber of peo­ple who will con­tract the virus, get sick, and pos­si­bly die will sky­rock­et in a very short amount of time.

This graph­ic from Gary War­shaw and Sign­er Lab explains what phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing can do for us (the orig­i­nal title of the graph used the term social dis­tanc­ing, which NPI no longer uses, because it is a mis­nomer).

The power of physical distancing

The pow­er of phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing: An info­graph­ic by Gary War­shaw and Sign­er Lab, mod­i­fied by NPI

You can click the image to see a larg­er ver­sion.

Pre­fer a video expla­na­tion? Watch this:

You may have also heard ref­er­ences to “flat­ten­ing the curve”. That refers specif­i­cal­ly to the ben­e­fit phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing can have on our health­care sys­tem. If peo­ple do not prac­tice phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing, the results will be dis­as­trous. Hos­pi­tals, doc­tors, nurs­es, and first respon­ders will not be able to help every­one who falls ill.

This graph illus­trates the con­cept of “flat­ten­ing the curve”:

Flatten the curve!

Experts explain: “Far and away, the most impor­tant thing to do is flat­ten the curve of the epi­dem­ic so that our health sys­tems can cope and to give time for the sci­en­tists to research vac­cines and treat­ments.”

Peo­ple who scoff at stay­ing home and com­ply­ing with the stay-at-home orders either do not appre­ci­ate the destruc­tion that a pan­dem­ic can cause, rip­ping apart fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties, or mis­tak­en­ly think that keep­ing our bro­ken eco­nom­ic sys­tem going is more impor­tant than sav­ing lives.

The truth is that bro­ken economies can be repaired — an econ­o­my is just the sum of human endeav­ors — but lives lost are irre­place­able. Once some­one has died, they can’t be brought back, at least not in this dimen­sion.

As our friend Anat Shenker-Oso­rio tweet­ed ear­li­er today:

Humans invent­ed this con­ven­tion called ‘the econ­o­my’ mere­ly to mea­sure what we do. And we are expect­ed to pledge loy­al­ty and obe­di­ence to it. The emper­or isn’t just he naked he’s mere­ly a set of ones and zeroes. The only there there is us.

Anat is cor­rect.

Life, lib­er­ty, and the pur­suit of hap­pi­ness. Those ideals mat­ter more than any com­pa­ny’s short term prof­its, or any­body’s 401(k).

Again, economies can be rebuilt. God is capa­ble of rais­ing the dead accord­ing to many faith tra­di­tions, but human beings are not.

We can’t get our par­ents and grand­par­ents and broth­ers and sis­ters and aunts and uncles and cousins and friends back once they’re gone.

Yes, there are mil­lions of peo­ple out there who will be hurt­ing eco­nom­i­cal­ly because of COVID-19. Let’s help them. But help­ing them does­n’t mean giv­ing big cor­po­ra­tions a blank check. We’ve done that before, and look where it got us.

More deaths, more cases in Washington State

There are now 2,221 con­firmed cas­es of COVID-19 in Wash­ing­ton State. One hun­dred and ten peo­ple have died from the dis­ease.

31,712 indi­vid­u­als have test­ed neg­a­tive.

King Coun­ty has the most cas­es.

Here’s the lat­est from Seat­tle-King Coun­ty Pub­lic Health:

Pub­lic Health—Seattle & King Coun­ty is report­ing the fol­low­ing con­firmed cas­es and deaths due to COVID-19 through 11:59 p.m. on 3/22/20.

  • 1170 con­firmed cas­es (up 130 from yes­ter­day)
  • 87 con­firmed deaths (up 12 from yes­ter­day)

These addi­tion­al deaths include:

  • A woman in his sev­en­ties, who died on March 21st
  • A man in his sev­en­ties, who died on March 21st at Ever­green­Health
  • A man in his eight­ies who died on March 22nd at Ever­green­Health
  • A man in his eight­ies, who died on March 22nd at Swedish Issaquah
  • A woman in her sev­en­ties, who died on March 22nd
  • A woman in her nineties. who died on March 22nd
  • A man in his sev­en­ties, who died on March 22nd
  • A woman in her nineties, who died on March 22nd
  • A woman in her six­ties, who died on March 22nd at Swedish Cher­ry Hill
  • A man in his six­ties, who died on March 21st at Swedish Cher­ry Hill
  • A man in his six­ties who died on March 22nd at Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton Med­ical Cen­ter
  • A man in his six­ties who died on March 22nd at Vir­ginia Mason

Of the 87 deaths report­ed, 37 are con­firmed to be asso­ci­at­ed with Life Care Cen­ter of Kirk­land.

In What­com Coun­ty, there are a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of deaths and cas­es asso­ci­at­ed with Shuk­san Health­care Cen­ter.

More cases in Oregon

The Beaver State also report­ed more cas­es today.

Ore­gon Health Author­i­ty report­ed 30 new cas­es of COVID-19, bring­ing the state total to 191, as of 8:00 AM today. The COVID-19 cas­es report­ed today are in the fol­low­ing coun­ties: Clacka­mas (2), Hood Riv­er (1), Linn (1), Mar­i­on (8), Mult­nom­ah (2), Polk (2), Wash­ing­ton (14).

More cases in British Columbia

North of the bor­der, the num­ber of nov­el coro­n­avirus cas­es is also increas­ing.

VICTORIA — The COVID-19 sit­u­a­tion in British Colum­bia is con­tin­u­al­ly evolv­ing and the infor­ma­tion below is cur­rent as of 10 a.m. on Mon­day, March 23, 2020.

Cas­es:

  • Total con­firmed cas­es in B.C.: 472
  • New cas­es since March 21, 2020: 48
  • Hos­pi­tal­ized cas­es: 33
  • Inten­sive care: 14
  • Deaths: 13
  • Recov­ered: 100

Con­firmed cas­es by region:

  • Van­cou­ver Coastal Health: 248
  • Fras­er Health: 150
  • Island Health: 39
  • Inte­ri­or Health: 30
  • North­ern Health: 5

Test­ing:

  • NEW: Test­ing capac­i­ty has increased to approx­i­mate­ly 3,000 tests per day.
  • 17,912 indi­vid­u­als test­ed as of March 20, 2020.
  • Test­ing is avail­able for all who need it, but not every­one requires a test.
  • If you have no symp­toms, mild symp­toms or you are a return­ing trav­el­er self-iso­lat­ing at home, you do not require a test.
  • For each of these sit­u­a­tions, the pub­lic health advice remains the same, regard­less of test results: self-iso­late for 14 days to mon­i­tor for the devel­op­ment of symp­toms or until your symp­toms are com­plete­ly gone.
  • Those who have severe ill­ness, require hos­pi­tal­iza­tion, are res­i­dents of long-term care facil­i­ties or are health-care work­ers will con­tin­ue to be test­ed.
  • Any­one part of an active inves­ti­ga­tion or out­break clus­ter will be test­ed so they can be appro­pri­ate­ly mon­i­tored.
  • If symp­toms appear, call your health-care provider, call 811 for guid­ance or check your symp­toms online.

COVID-19 fallout: News roundup

COVID-19 Update will return with a new install­ment tomor­row.

Adjacent posts

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