Washington’s COVID-19 emergency order ends Monday

OLYMPIA — Washington’s COVID-19 emergency order officially ends Monday.

Governor Jay Inslee’s office made the formal announcement last month, citing vaccinations, medical treatments and efforts people made since the first case of COVID-19 was documented in January 2020.

“While we are grateful for the thousands of lives we saved together, thousands of lives were also lost, and many more were changed forever,” Inslee said. “The past two and a half years have been some of the hardest anyone can remember. Through the loss and suffering, we did not lose faith and we did not abandon each other. Working together, we saved countless thousands of lives.”

Washington had one of the lowest COVID-19 death rates across the country while the emergency order was in effect. According to the CDC, Washington right now has the fifth-lowest death rate in the country (191 deaths per 100,000 people). Also, every county in Washington has low community transmission levels.

Inslee’s office says if the entire country had the same death rate as Washington, around 433,000 lives could have been saved.

However, COVID-19 is still out there and continues to change, as more than 300 people still contract COVID-19 every day. With this in mind, Inslee’s office says safety precautions in workplaces, healthcare facilities and other settings will still continue. They also say local health jurisdictions may have other COVID-19 requirements in place also. Most state employees will still need a COVID-19 vaccine to work.

Inslee’s office also says the secretary of the DOH’s masking order will continue in efforts to cover healthcare and long-term health care facilities, along with correctional facilities where there are high COVID-19 cases.

Certain safety standards in work settings will also stay in place. This included keeping employees who test positive for COVID-19 away from work for five days, exposure notifications, anti-discrimination riles against high-risk workers looking for accommodations for COVID-19 and the option for people to wear masks while working.

“I can’t express how grateful I am to the health care workers, public health teams and other frontline workers who helped save so many lives and will continue keeping our communities safe and healthy,” Inslee said. “Ending this order does not mean we take the pandemic less seriously or will lose focus on how this virus has changed the way we live. We will continue our commitments to the public’s well-being, but simply through different tools that are now more appropriate for the era we’ve entered.”

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