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.

Friday, May 1st, 2020

COVID-19 Update: Different paths towards reopening in the Pacific Northwest

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.

Washington

Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee announced Wednes­day that the state’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” stay at home order will extend past the orig­i­nal May 4th expi­ra­tion date. How­ev­er, a relax­ation of restric­tions on the con­struc­tion indus­try and spe­cif­ic out­door activ­i­ties, such as hunt­ing and fish­ing, has been accom­pa­nied by a list of a writ­ten guide­lines by which pre­vi­ous­ly with­held elec­tive surg­eries can now pro­ceed.

“I do not believe that we will have the infec­tion rate or the fatal­i­ty rate or the hos­pi­tal admis­sion for COVID-like symp­toms rate, none of those num­bers will be low enough to jus­ti­fy remov­ing major social dis­tanc­ing strate­gies,” Gov­er­nor Inslee said on Wednes­day. “One of the most frus­trat­ing num­bers, I have to tell you, is our num­ber of infec­tions per day because that is stub­born and has not been going down as we would have liked in the last week to 10 days.”

Gov­er­nor Inslee wants to, as soon as is rea­son­able, replace some phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing require­ments with more robust test­ing, con­tract trac­ing and quar­an­tine mea­sures. Toward that end, the Fed­er­al gov­ern­ment has com­mit­ted to over 500,000 nasal swabs and oth­er mate­ri­als nec­es­sary per month, which would result in being able to reach the state’s goal of over 22,000 being test­ed per day.

Gov­er­nor Inslee will announce at a press con­fer­ence this after­noon how he will start to re-open the state in phas­es, as test­ing, trac­ing of peo­ple, fol­lowed by quar­an­tine of the known sick, advance, using his office’s risk assess­ment dash­board to assess progress over time.

Oregon

Gov­er­nor Kate Brown will be hold­ing a press con­fer­ence this after­noon to dis­cuss test­ing and track­ing pro­ce­dures as the state con­sid­ers re-open­ing and phas­ing out its ongo­ing stay at home order, which present­ly has no end date. Guide­lines for the pub­lic in gen­er­al, and specif­i­cal­ly for busi­ness­es in par­tic­u­lar, are in draft at the moment but are also like­ly to be part of the press con­fer­ence.

This includes such items as main­tain­ing a six foot min­i­mum dis­tanc­ing rule for indi­vid­u­als, using a face mask when out­side and rec­om­mend­ing that busi­ness­es keep a record of all cus­tomers vis­it­ing their facil­i­ties and when they did so, for poten­tial track­ing pur­pos­es. Four coun­ties have asked for a resump­tion of eco­nom­ic activ­i­ties and anoth­er four have endorsed the request from Dou­glas Coun­ty, one of the first four coun­ties to make a direct request.

This is the begin­ning of Gov­er­nor Brown’s attempt to ful­fill her state­ment of April 14th — “While we have to be care­ful, we also can­not stand still.”

Idaho

Gov­er­nor Lit­tle of Ida­ho declared on Thurs­day that the state has met its cri­te­ria to end its “Stay Healthy” order starter March 15th and will begin Stage 1 of its “Ida­ho Rebounds” plan today.

Most stores and busi­ness­es will be allowed to reopen, but not such places as restau­rant din­ing rooms, bars, night­clubs, hair and nail salons, indoor gyms, recre­ation­al sites, or con­ven­tion or enter­tain­ment cen­ters. Church­es may be allowed to open, but only if they fol­low strict phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing and san­i­ta­tion require­ments in place per the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol (CDC). Child­care facil­i­ties and youth activ­i­ty facil­i­ties and camps may be allowed to reopen, though no specifics are as yet not­ed on how to min­i­mize poten­tial dis­ease trans­mis­sion.

While Gov­er­nor Lit­tle stum­bled bad­ly when COVID-19 hit Ida­ho, he has tried to lis­ten more to his Health and Wel­fare Direc­tor, Dave Jeppsen, and relat­ed pub­lic heath experts. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, he also has had some­what of a hands-off approach, which has led to chal­lenges to his author­i­ty with­out response.

Gov­er­nor Lit­tle also is being request­ed to have a more trans­par­ent effort toward pro­vid­ing a full and com­plete set of data regard­ing the num­bers of those made ill and who have died as a result of the SARS-CoV­‑2 virus.

British Columbia

Rapid response by provin­cial pub­lic health author­i­ties have result­ed in the province being ahead of the rest of Cana­da in its response to COVID-19. Con­sid­er­a­tion of under what con­di­tions and by what means a phased reopen­ing of the province may take place is under dis­cus­sion, but no firm plan has been pro­posed as yet and the excit­ing lock­down orders are still in place. Var­i­ous anti­body tests are being exam­ined for valid­i­ty in deter­ring the rate of “herd immu­ni­ty” with­in the province.

Today a press con­fer­ence will be held by Finance Min­is­ter Car­ole James about a one-time ben­e­fit of $1,000 for cit­i­zens of the province and how the appli­ca­tion process will work.

The hard, cold numbers

Wash­ing­ton state has had 14,327 cas­es and 814 attrib­ut­able deaths.

193,981 peo­ple have been test­ed.

Ore­gon has had 2,510 cas­es and 103 attrib­ut­able deaths.

56,512 peo­ple have been test­ed.

Ida­ho has had 2,015 cas­es and 63 attrib­ut­able deaths.

28,240 peo­ple have been test­ed.

British Colum­bia has had 2,112 cas­es and 111 attrib­ut­able deaths.

86,030 peo­ple have been test­ed.

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