Courtesy photo; Governor Jay Inslee press conference March 16
Courtesy photo; Governor Jay Inslee press conference March 16

Gov. Jay Inslee tweeted and released a statement overnight Sunday that further expands protections against COVID-19 and is expected to make a joint statement on the virus control efforts being taken.

In addition to the earlier order March 12th where Inslee ordered the close all K-12 public and private schools. “Every district throughout the state of Washington will close for the next six weeks. He also announced activity restrictions for all statewide public and private universities, colleges, community colleges and technical schools, private career schools and apprenticeship training programs.”

Inslee also announced two further executive orders on March 13th expanding on orders from earlier in the week. The first extends the ban on events of 250 or larger beyond the Puget Sound region to the entire state. The second expanded Tuesday's restrictions on visitors and protocols to nursing homes and assisted living facilities to include adult family homes and waived certain statutory requirements for long-term care workers.

Adding to these earlier steps he released the following statement - “Given the explosion of COVID-19 in our state and globally, I will sign a statewide emergency proclamation tomorrow to temporarily shut down restaurants, bars and entertainment and recreational facilities.

“Restaurants will be allowed to provide take-out and delivery services but no in-person dining will be permitted.

“The ban will not apply to grocery stores and pharmacies. Other retail outlets will have reduced occupancy.

“Additionally, all gatherings with over 50 participants are prohibited and all gatherings under 50 participants are prohibited unless previously announced criteria for public health and social distancing are met.

“These are very difficult decisions, but hours count here and very strong measures are necessary to slow the spread of the disease. I know there will be significant economic impacts to all our communities and we are looking at steps to help address those challenges.

“Tonight, after consultations with me and with the Department of Health, King County announced that they will be taking these actions immediately. King County has been the hotbed of this outbreak and has the largest population center in the state. I have spoken to Executive Dow Constantine and I applaud their decision to act quickly. Inslee and King County and other officials are expected to do a joint media announcement with more details.”

These latest measures have developed as pressure continues on officials in Washington State — with 769 confirmed cases and 42 deaths due to COVID-19, the most reported in the nation — to take action, as a series of city and state officials across the country announced they would close bars and restaurants or restrict their operations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Sunday that gatherings of 50 or more people be suspended for the next eight weeks.

Residents of Pierce County are encouraged to review more information at www.tpchd.org/coronavirus, which the Health Department regularly updates The page also includes frequently asked questions. Sign up for public health updates at www.tpchd.org/notify. These resources, along with Pierce County’s social media and webpage, will offer frequent updates.