Governors Jay Inslee and Kate Brown at a press conference
Governors Jay Inslee (of Washington) and Kate Brown (of Oregon) at a joint media availability created to discuss the unique role West Coast states play in efforts to reduce carbon pollution and improve energy efficiency (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

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 across the coun­try are work­ing to mitigate.


Gov­er­nor Inslee extend­ed the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order through May 31st, but also unveiled a four-phase plan for a grad­ual open­ing of the state.


This plan will start Phase I, begin­ning today, and there are expect­ed to be a min­i­mum of three weeks between each phase, though what will ulti­mate­ly deter­mine whether the state will advance to the next phase are five metrics.

These are COVID-19 dis­ease activ­i­ty; test­ing capac­i­ty and avail­abil­i­ty; case and con­tact inves­ti­ga­tions; risk to vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tions, and health care sys­tem readi­ness. For exam­ple, if the Fed­er­al gov­ern­ment fails to pro­vide the half mil­lion test swabs and relat­ed mate­ri­als for test­ing on a reg­u­lar basis to Wash­ing­ton state, for exam­ple, there will be a delay in mov­ing for­ward to Phase II.

Gov­er­nor Inslee also remind­ed view­ers that munic­i­pal­i­ties and coun­ties can still apply stricter mea­sures than those the state has in place through the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” plan through­out this process, to meet the local sit­u­a­tion at hand.

In con­junc­tion with this four-phase plan is the COVID-19 risk assess­ment dash­board, to pro­vide a broad overview of where the state stands per the fine met­rics and explain in greater detail what each met­ric means.

As in Ore­gon, approx­i­mate­ly 1,500 per­son­nel will be hired by mid-May to main­tain dai­ly one-on-one con­tact with those who have been diag­nosed with COVID-19 and ensur­ing they don’t spread the virus further.

Ten coun­ties will be con­sid­ered, as they make up less than 3% of the pop­u­la­tion of the state, if they main­tain their extreme­ly low num­ber of cas­es of the virus and have enough hos­pi­tal capac­i­ty and per­son­al pro­tec­tive equip­ment (PPE) on hand, to be allowed a vari­ance to move ear­ly to Phase 2.

These coun­ties are Colum­bia, Fer­ry, Garfield, Grays Har­bor, Jef­fer­son, Kit­ti­tas, Lin­coln, Pend Oreille, Ska­ma­nia and Wahki­akum. If this move is suc­cess­ful, oth­er coun­ties will be able to request con­sid­er­a­tion to join this group.


Gov­er­nor Kate Brown has extend­ed the present State of Emer­gency order with­in Ore­gon through July 6th, but may allow spe­cif­ic coun­ties that have zero cas­es of Covid-19 to grad­u­al­ly reopen start­ing May 15th.

She has also announced a new pro­gram, “Be the Key,” with 100,000 ran­dom­ly select­ed vol­un­teers, focused on vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tions, to cre­ate a bet­ter idea of where COVID-19 exists and how it affects their communities.

Those who agree to par­tic­i­pate would be tracked for up to one year.

The Ore­gon Health Author­i­ty, in con­junc­tion with “Be the Key,” also announced a series of mea­sures to fur­ther con­tain the spread of COVID-19. These are built around two strate­gies – one for test­ing and con­tact trac­ing, and one for con­tain­ment and iso­la­tion of those found to have the virus.

The first step is statewide active sur­veil­lance – that’s main­tain­ing dai­ly one-on-one con­tact with those who have been diag­nosed with COVID-19 and ensur­ing they don’t spread the virus fur­ther. Around six hun­dred vol­un­teers will be hired for this pur­pose, espe­cial­ly for those with the cul­tur­al and lin­guis­tic com­pe­tence nec­es­sary to effec­tive­ly work with at-risk groups.

The first step is expand­ing test­ing to iden­ti­fy those with, and to then stop the spread of the virus. The statewide goal is thir­ty tests per week per 10,000 Ore­go­ni­ans, and to ensure any­one with symp­toms is test­ed with­in forty-eight to sev­en­ty-two hours, though more spe­cif­ic goals exist for each of the nine regions into which the state will con­duct testing.

The sec­ond step is to iden­ti­fy and inves­ti­gate as part of a pro­gram of “broad con­tact trac­ing;” to track all those who may have been in con­tact with the per­son found to have test­ed pos­i­tive for COVID-19. The third step is to iso­late those who test pos­i­tive for the dis­ease and quar­an­tine those exposed. The fourth step is to iden­ti­fy and reduce the poten­tial spread of the virus with spe­cif­ic at-risk groups.

The hard, cold numbers

Wash­ing­ton state has had 16,136 cas­es and 846 attrib­ut­able deaths.

216,320 peo­ple have been tested.

Ore­gon has had 2,759 cas­es and 109 attrib­ut­able deaths.

63,443 peo­ple have been tested.

Ida­ho has had 2,106 cas­es and 64 attrib­ut­able deaths.

30,146 peo­ple have been tested.

British Colum­bia has had 2,224 cas­es and 117 attrib­ut­able deaths.

96,517 peo­ple have been tested.

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