Washington residents are being asked to voluntarily limit nonessential travel to other states and in general stay home when possible to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Gov. Jay Inslee issued the voluntary travel restrictions this morning. Thursday evening in a televised address he asked Washington residents to forgo large family gatherings and other celebrations for Thanksgiving and the coming holiday season.
Residents of other states arriving in Washington, and Washington residents returning from travel out of state, are also asked to voluntarily self-quarantine for 14 days, limiting contact to those in their immediate household.
The governors of California and Oregon issued similar advisories Friday morning. Oregon will close bars and restaurants for anything but takeout for two weeks, starting Monday.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown also ordered a two-week “freeze” that will close gyms, museums, pools, movie theaters and zoos, the Associated Press reported. All businesses will be required to close their offices to the public and mandate work-from-home “to the greatest extent possible.”
In April, Washington, California and Oregon joined in a “Western States Pact” with shared principles of health and science rather than politics for fighting the pandemic and reopening their economies.
The goals of the pact include working together on:
Protecting vulnerable populations at risk for severe disease if they get infected.
Ensuring adequate hospital surge capacity for those who become sick with the virus or other conditions.
Mitigating the non-direct COVID-19 health impacts, particularly on disadvantaged communities.
Protecting the general public by developinga system for testing, tracking and isolating cases.
But the states are not moving in lockstep on regulations and restrictions.
Washington’s voluntary self-quarantine recommendation does not apply to those who routinely cross the state line for work, such as residents of Eastern Washington working in North Idaho or vice versa.
“Washingtonians are encouraged to stay home or in their region and avoid nonessential travel to other states or countries,” the advisory said. “Avoiding travel can reduce the risk of virus transmission and bringing the virus back to Washington.”
The governor’s office emphasized later that this was “a recommendation, not a requirement.”
As of Thursday night, Washington had recorded 123,356 cases of COVID-19, with 2,507 deaths. The number of cases has been steadily rising since mid-September, creating what health officials call a third wave of the pandemic’s spread. Spokane has recorded 11,615 cases and 219 deaths.
In his address, Inslee said the state will likely announce new restrictions early next week as part of further efforts to slow the virus. They would be in addition to the recommendations to limit travel and large gatherings.
In separate action Friday, Inslee asked the Trump administration to extend the federal authority and money for Washington National Guard members who are involved in pandemic emergency response and preparing to distribute a vaccine. The state has some 800 Guard members involved in supporting food banks, delivering meals and operating test sites.
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