KEY POINTS

  • Governor Jay Inslee extended the stay-at-home order through May 4
  • Public gatherings remain banned and non-essential businesses are ordered closed 
  • Inslee said recovery of people’s health is the fastest way to recover the economy

In a new development, Washington State extended its stay-at-home order up to May 4, Governor Jay Inslee announced Thursday. The order was initially issued on March 23 asking the residents to maintain social distancing while staying home for the next two weeks in a bid to halt the further spread of COVID-19.

Inslee said people's health is important to help recover the economy. “The fastest way to economic recovery is for a recovery of our health, which is fundamental to all we hold dear,” he said in a press conference.

"We have yet to see the full weight of this virus in our state," he said, adding that the order is both justified and morally necessary. “We are confident we have taken the necessary steps, but we cannot lose steam in this fight." 

Washington is the first state to extend the order in the face of potential economic fallout from the disease as other states are still hesitating to take the bold step.

“We need to make decisions based on science and reality. And there are some hard realities we have to understand. And that is, unless we continue a very vigorous social distancing program in my state, this is going to continue to spread like wildfire to every single corner of my state,” Inslee said on CNN’s “State of the Union” earlier while his government was still weighing the need to implement the extension.

The guidelines will be equally applicable for places in the state that are less affected by the coronavirus.

The previous order restricted public gatherings and ordered the closure of many businesses, while Inslee said only businesses that contributed to the “healthy functioning of our community or are able to let employees work remotely from home,” including grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, and gas stations, were allowed to function. People were still allowed to go for a walk, visit a doctor, or going about necessary chores given they maintained a six-foot distance.

Inslee, in the fresh move, relaxed restrictions on businesses like automotive repair shops, private campgrounds and commercial fishing and geoduck operations.

The new order doesn’t include any additional restrictions, but simply is an extension of the previous one, Inslee said on Twitter.

Washington State has reported a total of 6,585 cases as of April 1, with 262 deaths, according to the Washington State Department of Health. 

coronavirus ravages the United States of America coronavirus ravages the United States of America Photo: Gerd Altmann - Pixabay