Last Friday, Gov. Jay Inslee rescinded his November 2020 Travel Advisory and is advising Washingtonians and others visiting Washington to comply with the Center for Disease Control's current COVID-19 travel advisory guidance.
On November 13, 2020, due to the increasing incidence of COVID-19 in many states and countries, Inslee issued a travel advisory for persons arriving in Washington from out of state, and Washingtonians returning from other states or countries. That document advised: (1) those returning to Washington from other states or countries should self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival; and, (2) it encouraged Washingtonians to avoid non-essential out-of-state travel.
Current CDC guidance is more robust, thorough, and specific than the November 2020 travel advisory, and is regularly updated to reflect the latest science, optimal safety practices and protocols, and the current COVID-19 situation here and abroad.
Inslee Makes Extensions
Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday that the statewide eviction moratorium will be extended through June 30, as well as upcoming vaccine eligibility expansion, including restaurant workers and Washingtonians 60 and older. He also announced that effective immediately, many visitations at long-term care facilities and nursing homes may resume.
In addition, the state Department of Health (DOH) launched a new web tool to help people find open vaccination appointments near them.
"It's another great day to be from Washington state," Inslee said Thursday. "From protecting people's housing to helping people see their loved ones and getting more Washingtonians vaccinated, we're continuing to move forward toward recovery."
State reopening plan moving to Phase 3 Monday
Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday that the state's Healthy Washington: Roadmap to Recovery will be transitioning from a regional approach to a county-by-county evaluation process. The governor also announced a new third phase of the Roadmap, a return for in-person spectators for professional and high school sports.
Effective March 22, the entire state will enter Phase 3.
Sports guidance will change in Phase 3 to allow in-person spectators at events for the first time in a year. Spectators will be allowed to attend outdoor venues with permanent seating with capacity capped at 25 percent. The change affects both professional and high school sports, as well as motorsports, rodeos, and other outdoor spectator events. Social distancing and facial covering are still required.
Next Tier of Vaccine
Eligibility Coming Earlier
On Thursday, the governor announced that every group prioritized in Phase 1B, Tier 2 will be eligible for their COVID vaccine starting Wednesday, March 17.
This includes workers in agriculture, food processing, grocery stores, public transit, firefighters and law enforcement, among others. Phase 1B, Tier 2 also includes people over the age of 16 who are pregnant or have a disability that puts them at high-risk.
The state will continue to ensure those eligible in earlier phases who have not yet been administered doses have space to be vaccinated, even as more people become eligible.
Gov. Jay Inslee updated proclamation 20-83 regarding quarantine requirements for air travel. Inslee also released new proclamations related to winter weather and the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19- Restrictions on Travelers
Amends Proclamation 20-83, which required air passengers to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival from countries in which COVID-19 variants were detected. The amended order requires all air passengers to comply with the requirements ordered by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when traveling from outside the U.S. to Washington. The CDC currently requires all such air passengers to obtain a negative viral COVID test within 3 days of travel or to present proof of recovery from COVID-19. For other types of travel, the Governor's travel advisory remains in place. This proclamation will remain in effect through the state of emergency established in Proclamation 20-05.
COVID-19 - Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) Informational Public Hearings
This proclamation allows EFSEC to remotely conduct its required informational public hearings regarding new energy project siting proposals, under RCW 80.50.090(1). Though allowing for remote informational public hearings, the order requires EFSEC to provide robust public participation options so that the public may observe the hearing in real time and offer public comment. This order goes into effect March 12, 2021, and expires on April 11, 2021, unless further extended.
Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday regions would not move backward in the Healthy Washington phased reopening plan, and that the pause would last at least several weeks.
All eight regions have been in Phase 2 since Feb. 14, which allows for more activities including indoor dining at 25 percent capacity. Future phases are still being discussed by state leaders in partnership with stakeholders in local government, business and labor.
Inslee said he is optimistic about current trends in COVID-19 activity, particularly the steady decrease in cases and hospitalizations since the pandemic's third wave peaked toward the end of 2020. These trends coincide with progress in another important front in the battle against COVID-19: More than 1.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Washington.
A Third Vaccine
The U.S. is getting a third vaccine to prevent COVID-19. Saturday, the Food and Drug Administration cleared a Johnson & Johnson shot that works with just one dose instead of two. One dose was 85 percent protective against the most severe COVID-19 illness, in a massive study that spanned three continents. In the USA, the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna shots were 95 percent protective against symptomatic COVID-19. J&J's one-dose effectiveness of 85 percent against severe COVID-19 dropped to 66 percent when moderate cases were rolled in, according to The Associated Press.
Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday signed House Bill 1368, which appropriates $2.2 billion in federal funding that has been allocated to states in response to the ongoing COVID emergency. The legislation takes effect immediately.
"Our focus this year is relief, recovery and resilience, and this legislation will help us make tremendous progress in all of those areas. Washingtonians have been exemplary in helping limit the spread of COVID-19, but it has not come without its economic and emotional costs," Inslee said. "The process of getting to a post-pandemic era has already begun, and we will come out of this stronger because of legislation like what I am signing today."
In December, Inslee asked the Legislature to act early on COVID relief legislation, and the Legislature responded with HB 1368, which addresses a host of needs facing Washingtonians right now.
The House legislation was sponsored by Rep. Timm Ormsby. Sen. Christine Rolfes sponsored companion legislation in the Senate.
"Local communities have done their part to keep us all safe during this pandemic. This bill is just one step the Legislature will take this year to support those who are struggling most in our state," said Ormsby, chair of the House Appropriations Committee. "As we approach the budgeting process, we are keeping our focus on investments that equitably address the needs in struggling communities and help families and small businesses get through this current stage of the pandemic."
Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday that five more regions will move to Phase 2 of the state's reopening plan, Healthy Washington - Roadmap to Recovery. As of Sunday, seven of the eight regions in the state will be in Phase 2. These regions represent more than 90 percent of the state's population.
The following regions will stay in Phase 1: South Central
The following regions will stay in Phase 2: Puget Sound, West
The following regions will move from Phase 1 to Phase 2: East, North, North Central, Northwest, Southwest
The following regions will move from Phase 2 to Phase 1: None
Regions are required to meet three of the four public health metrics to progress to Phase 2. The South Central region, the only one to remain in Phase 1, currently meets two of the four metrics.
There is still no future razor clam dates to be announced until domoic acid levels in razor clams drop below the action level.
"We have no projections of when that might be; however, we do know that in three of the four major domoic acid events that occurred in the fall (of)1991-92, 1997-98 and 2002-03, domoic acid levels in razor clams remained evaluated through the end of the season," according to WDFW Coastal Shellfish Manager Dan Ayres early Thursday morning. "We will continue to test every two weeks."
Listed below are the most recent marine toxin levels, as announced by the Washington Department of Health (WDOH).
According to Ayres, before a beach can be opened for the harvest of razor clams, WDOH protocol requires that all razor clam samples collected from that beach must test under the action level (20 ppm for domoic acid; 80 µg/100g for PSP; and 16 µg/100g for DSP) on both of two required sample collections, that must be spaced 7 to 10 days apart.
Gov. Jay Inslee sent a letter to the president of the Washington Education Association (WEA) detailing his support for educators and students to return to in-person learning. Inslee noted the progress being made right now in some Washington districts.
The letter to WEA reads, in part:
"The experience of Washington state educators in this regard should be given the highest consideration in this discussion. Educators have demonstrated rather conclusively that onsite instruction can be done with reasonable safety. Your members have already been working on site with over 200,000 students during the last several months at a variety of public schools across the state that are diverse geographically and demographically. Students are learning on-site at elementary schools, middle schools and high schools, and they have been successful because of the professionalism, dedication, and commitment of educators and school staff to their students."
No future razor clam dates will be announced until domoic acid levels in razor clams drop below the action level. That's the word from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
"We have no projections of when that might be," WDFW Coastal Shellfish Manager Dan Ayres said last Wednesday afternoon. "We will continue to test every two weeks.
"As we reported earlier this month, razor clams are following the historical pattern of slowly depurating (losing) domoic acid," Ayres said. "We also are observing the levels 'bounce around' some, as they have in past events. This is a result of the individual 12 clams we harvest when we are collecting samples. The toxin 'load' can vary greatly between individual clams.
"The laboratory protocol requires the clams to be cleaned and then the meat from all 12 (per area) are blended together," Ayres continued. "Then a sample of that mixture is analyzed and one result is reported for that area."
During a press conference last week, Governor Jay Inslee announced that the West and Puget Sound Regions have moved to Phase 2 on Monday, February 1. These two regions include Pacific, Grays Harbor, Lewis, Thurston, Snohomish, King, and Pierce counties. Each of these counties have met the metrics that Inslee put into place at the beginning of January.
Last week, both chambers of the Legislature approved governor-requested legislation SB 5061, which would increase minimum unemployment benefits for workers and provide $1.7 billion in unemployment tax relief for businesses. The bill received strong bipartisan support, and the governor expects to sign it next week.
This week, the Legislature is set to take action on a number of other governor-request bills. Today, the Labor and Workplace Standards Committee is scheduled to vote on HB 1097, which would help ensure safer working conditions and better protections for workers.
Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee will hear HB1091, which would establish a clean fuels program in Washington. They're also scheduled to take executive action on HB 1016, which would establish Juneteenth as a Washington state holiday.
HB 1267, governor-request legislation sponsored by Rep. Debra Entenman, is also scheduled for executive action that day in the House Public Safety Committee. The legislation would create an Office of Independent Investigations to conduct investigations into police use of excessive force.
The 105-day legislative session is set to run through the end of April.
In an effort to increase legislative transparency, Rep. Joel McEntire (R-Cathlamet) introduced legislation last Tuesday (Jan. 19) to keep legislators from using "ghost bills."
House Bill 1324 would eliminate the practice of legislators using title-only bills, also referred to as "ghost bills." Title-only bills are introduced with no content, amended later with the bill text and rushed through the legislative process before the public has a chance to review or comment on the legislation.
"While this is my first legislative session, I am familiar with title-only bills. As I followed the Legislature the last few years, it received a lot of media attention, and rightfully so," McEntire said. "This is about ensuring our citizens have access and opportunity to provide input on legislation before it is passed."
Two cases of the new coronavirus variant found in the United Kingdom have been detected in Snohomish County, state health officials announced Saturday. The variant spreads more easily and more quickly than the original strain.
Through mid-day Saturday there were 1,987 coronavirus cases reported in Washington, bringing the state total to 300,198. There have been 4,114 deaths and 17,128 people hospitalized, according to the state Dept. of Health. On Friday, there were 2,174 COVID-19 cases and 49 deaths reported in the state. On
Thursday there were 2,223 cases and 125 deaths from COVID-19 in Washington.
Washington's Department of Health has put out information about the expected vaccination dates. This timeline is adjustable in case the state runs into any problems with distribution. According to the Pacific County Department of Health said that Priority Group B is the largest group so far.
"We are getting new information on this every day," said PCDOH Director Katie Lindstrom. "I expect that we will get news very soon about Phase B. I also expect that the order of it could change, but as of right now this is where we are at."
Priority Group B1, which is the next group, is expected to start at the end of January 2021. This group includes all people 70 years or older and all people 50 years or older in multigenerational households.
Gov. Jay Inslee released a statement last Tuesday (Jan. 12) announcing the extension of actions taken by the state to ensure the safety and security of Washingtonians, legislators, state employees and the buildings of the Capitol Campus.
"Based on the recommendation of the Washington State Patrol, current security measures on the Capitol Campus will remain in place through federal Inauguration Day (Wednesday, Jan. 20) due to evolving intelligence on security threats posed in all 50 state capitals following the violence in our nation's capital, as well as recent illegal and dangerous actions associated with non-permitted events on our state's Capitol Campus.
"The Washington National Guard will continue to support the security focused efforts of the Washington State Patrol and the temporary fencing that has been placed around the restricted area of the West Campus.
"These unfortunate, necessary security precautions could last longer, but we are hopeful that we will soon see political temperatures cool and threat levels come down, bringing a related easing of these restrictions.
You may not be getting all you can out of your browsing experience
and may be open to security risks!
Consider upgrading to the latest version of your browser or choose on below: