In a press conference yesterday (April 21), Washington State Governor Jay Inslee outlined his plan for reopening Washington State after the COVID-19 lockdown. He likened the process to turning a dial, as opposed to flipping a switch.
He also cautioned that the plan is a work in progress. He said, “We’re going to take steps and then monitor to see whether they work or if we must continue to adapt.”
Boxing the Virus
The plan calls for a slow reopening of businesses and social and recreational activities based on the strategy of “boxing in” the virus. Here are the four sides of the box:
- Widespread testing
- Rapid isolation of those who test positive
- Tracing of people who have been in contact with those who test positive
- Quarantining of the contacts
In order for this plan to work, Inslee said, the State needs to be testing between 20,000 and 30,000 people per day, and he petitioned the White House to develop a national testing system. Currently, the State is administering only 4,000 tests per day because of a lack of supplies.
Reopening businesses will not mean business as usual, and people will be required to continue to take safety precautions until a vaccine becomes available. The Governor’s office will issue guidelines for a safe transition.
In recognition of the fact that not all people are affected equally by the virus, Inslee is calling for widespread support tailored to specific needs:
- increased social and emotional supports,
- food and housing security,
- educational and child care support,
- internet infrastructure, and
- equitable access to services.
Stay tuned for details about local plans for reopening after the lockdown.