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Inslee Didn’t Announce New COVID Restrictions in Washington, But Hasn’t Ruled Them Out

The governor addressed the alarming spike of cases across the state in a speech Thursday night, urging Washingtonians to avoid holiday gatherings

A bird’s eye view of an empty Pike Place Market on a cloudy morning, with the famed neon sign shown to the left
With COVID cases rising rapidly, Seattle could face more restrictions on dining and other activities soon.

On Thursday, November 12, Gov. Jay Inslee and his wife Trudi discussed new concerns about the pandemic in a public address. The Inslees focused on the alarming spike in COVID-19 cases in the state, urging all Washingtonians to cancel holiday gatherings through the end of the year (those who still insist on visiting with loved ones should quarantine for two weeks, starting now, if it’s for Thanksgiving). The governor did not announce any new restrictions, but such measures are actively under consideration, and will likely be discussed within the next few days.

“As with previous restrictions, the goal is to reduce how often people are likely to come into contact with people from outside their household, limiting the spread, and preventing our health care system from being overwhelmed,” Inslee’s office said earlier. The governor is currently in talks with “stakeholders” across various sectors and industries on what steps might be taken.

The speech comes just two days after local health officials warned of the alarming increased transmission of COVID-19. In King County alone, there have been 400 cases a day and hospitalizations are up 30 percent week over week. The county’s lead health officer, Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, said Tuesday that the burden on the health system over the coming days would determine whether more direct restrictions are needed, while others urged people to scale back holiday plans significantly and reconsider going out to eat. University of Washington epidemiologist Dr. John Lynch said, “We may need to be stepping away from things like restaurants and bars or other congregate areas.” Cities like San Francisco have recently closed indoor dining at restaurants again due to COVID-19 spikes.

“We cannot wait until our hospital halls are lined with gurneys before we take decisive action,” Inslee said Thursday. The full speech is embedded below.

UPDATED, November 12, 2020, 7:58 p.m.: This article was updated with details from the governor’s speech