Gov. Inslee extends Washington’s stay-at-home order through May 4

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Gov. Jay Inslee has extended the statewide “stay-at-home” order through May 4 in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The order, issued on March 23, initially was set to last through April 6, with non-essential businesses to stay closed through April 8. The governor said Tuesday that “more people will die if we stop now.”

“We have yet to see the full weight of this virus in our state,” Inslee said. “This order is not only justified it is morally necessary. We are confident we have taken the necessary steps, but we cannot lose steam in this fight.”

Under the governor’s order, people are required to stay home unless they are involved in an essential activity like shopping for groceries, going to a doctor’s appointment, or working at an essential business.

Public health officials and researchers say social distancing appears to be helping to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the Seattle area, where many of the first U.S. deaths occurred, but more rural areas of the state are seeing upticks in case numbers, Inslee has said.

Going outside, walking your dog, going for a run, biking and working in your garden are all still allowed, as long as social distancing of at least six feet is practiced when with someone who doesn’t live in the same household as you.

Essential activities also include caring for a family member, friend, or pet in another household or residence, or driving a family member, friend or pet somewhere for an essential health or safety activity.

All gatherings, both private and public, are banned. These include things like playing pick-up basketball at the park, parties at the beach, and weddings. The ban on funerals has since been partially lifted, allowing limited services at funeral homes or graveside as long as only immediate family members attend, and as long as they stay 6 feet apart.

Also under the order, all essential businesses that are allowed to remain open must implement social distancing and sanitation measures. Restaurants will be allowed to continue to serve takeout or delivery, mail will continue to be delivered and garbage and recycling will be picked up.

Gas stations, banks and credit unions, grocery stores, farmers markets, pharmacies, marijuana stores, veterinarian clinics and medical centers will all remain open, as will ports and airports. Also considered essential: Law enforcement, those in public safety, first responders, child care workers and the media, as well as those who support the operation, inspection, and maintenance of essential public works facilities and operations, including bridges.

In Washington state, there have been 262 COVID-19 deaths and more than 6,500 confirmed cases. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

Nationally, more than 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — doubling a record high set just one week earlier. Combined with last week’s report that 3.3 million people sought unemployment aid two weeks ago, the U.S. economy has now suffered nearly 10 million layoffs in just the past few weeks — far exceeding the figure for any corresponding period on record.