Gov. Inslee: People should be thinking about avoiding large public events, other impacts from COVID-19

All cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) that have been found in Washington state have been limited to King and Snohomish counties, Dr. John Wiesman, secretary of the Washington State Department of Health, said at a press conference Monday.

There have been 18 cases of coronavirus confirmed in Washington, Wiesman said. So far, six people have died in Washington state from COVID-19.

“It’s certainly possible that the virus is spreading in other counties, too,” he said.

Washington state officials held the press conference to give an update of the spread of the virus and to continue to urge the public it take an active part in helping to control the spread of COVID-19.

But first, Gov. Jay Inslee said his thoughts were with those families and the families that are still trying to recover.

“Any loss to any family is a tragedy,” Inslee said.

Inslee said the state Department of Health laboratory in Shoreline now has the capability to test about 100 people a day (with two tests per person) for the coronavirus.

The governor said the University of Washington is also expected to begin testing patients this week for the virus.

“I’m very pleased that our state acted as fast as possible, ahead of the curve,” Inslee said, so testing could be done in Washington state.

The governor said he will ask for $100 million in this year’s state budget be devoted to state and local response to COVID-19.

He said he’s also asked for more support from the federal government.

Officials at Monday’s 35-minute-long press event said the public should be ready for expanding impacts from the spread of COVID-19.

Washington residents should be ready for the cancellation of large public events, as well as other impacts from the coronavirus.

Inslee said no immediate cancelations were planned.

“Folks should begin to think about avoiding large events and public assemblies. People should be prepared for that possibility, and need to be thinking about it,” Inslee said.

Inslee asked the public to help in containing the outbreak.

“Everyone can be a leader in this effort,” he said.

He stressed for Washington residents to take an active role with common-sense precautions and activities, include washing their hands, and avoiding shaking hand with people.

“Stay home if you are sick,” Inslee added.

Wiesman, secretary of the Washington State Department of Health, wholeheartedly agreed.

“That really needs to stop today,” Wiesman said.

Washington officials are expecting the number of affected residents to increase.

The governor also said COVID-19 seems to much more dangerous for those with underlying health conditions.

People with such conditions should think about how often they are interacting with others, Inslee said.

Inslee said he was following the advice he was giving. When he had a cough last week, he stayed home.

“I’m following this advice. I didn’t come to work Wednesday,” he said.

The governor also said he would no longer shake hands with people.

“Don’t be offended,” Inslee said.