Inslee announces two-week pause on phase movement despite case count rise
All counties will remain in their current phase, data will be evaluated in two weeks
May 6, 2021
OLYMPIA-Governor Jay Inslee Tuesday announced a two-week pause on movement in the Healthy Washington: Roadmap to Recovery reopening plan. Under the pause, every Washington State county will remain in its current phase, and will be reevaluated at the end of the two-week pause.
The decision was made in consultation with the Department of Health, and reflects current data suggesting that the state's fourth COVID-19 wave has hit a plateau.
"We are at the intersection of progress and failure, and we cannot veer from the path of progress," Inslee said Tuesday. "Our economy is beginning to show early signs of growth thanks to some of our great legislative victories and we know vaccines are the ticket to further reopening - if we adhere to public health until enough people are vaccinated."
During the announcement, Governor Inslee explained that, for weeks, epidemiologists have been following the state's fourth wave, which now appears to be leveling out. The fourth wave has been less severe, and case counts and mortalities have not been tied in rates of increase as they have in the past.
"The two-week pause provides time to see which direction we are heading and whether we are turning the corner on the 4th wave while we continue to do everything we possibly can to get more people vaccinated, especially younger adults, to decrease future risk," said Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer, Public Health Seattle & King County. "Our best path out of the painful cycle of COVID-19 resurgences and restrictions and for a return to normalcy as quickly as possible is by getting vaccinated as soon as possible. As more people get vaccinated, the number of infections and hospitalizations will go down and all of us will be safer."
The data changes during the fourth wave have been attributed to increasing vaccination rates, which have led to shortened hospitalization stays and have lessened the severity of the illness. Washington State's early vaccine prioritization has been tied to improved data and decreasing mortality rates in the state's most vulnerable populations.
"Vaccines are one of the most important tools we have to fight this pandemic," said Umair Shah, MD, MPH, secretary, Department of Health. "This 'pause' will allow our partners to advance their efforts to vaccinate individuals, families, and work with businesses to continue to reopen safely."
Dr. Shah said that receiving a vaccination does not mean that a Washingtonian's job is done: Vaccinated individuals are being encouraged to help non-vaccinated friends and neighbors get the COVID-19 vaccination.
"While we're pausing today, it doesn't mean we have a clear path out of these phases either. We have a choice in these next couple weeks to get vaccinated and take more control over the course of this pandemic," Inslee said. "If we can do the right thing together, we can pull through. I am confident and believe that if more people continue to get vaccinated and mask up, we can get our numbers down."
Vaccines are now available to all Washingtonians 16 and up. To find an appointment, visit VaccineLocator.doh.wa.gov.