Yakima County Gets Stay-At-Home Order As President Trump Declares Emergency For Washington
BY NWPB & AP STAFF
Updated March 23, 2020, 8:15 a.m. PT
Coronavirus continues to spread in Washington and Idaho. As of Sunday, March 22, Washington had nearly 2,000 confirmed cases, with at least 95 deaths since the outbreak began. Idaho’s official number stood at 47 cases, with most in Blaine County.
President Trump on Sunday announced an emergency declaration for Washington, freeing up federal assistance.
On Sunday, a nursing home in Bellingham became the latest site of a coronavirus outbreak affecting a vulnerable population. Shuksan Healthcare Center now has at least 32 confirmed COVID-19 cases. Twenty six are residents, and six are staff, according to the Bellingham Herald and Whatcom County’s health department.
Yakima County Stay-At-Home
Yakima County residents are being told to stay at home, except for essential travel and work. That order came Sunday night from county health officer Teresa Everson in response to growing coronavirus exposure, which the county health department reported at 32.
The order means people must stay at home except for needed travel for food, medication, medical treatment and certain essential jobs. Under the order, essential jobs include grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, banks, take-out and delivery food options, laundry services and essential government functions.
“This order has been implemented in recognition that if we don’t take drastic action now, there will be a day in which our healthcare system is overwhelmed,” Everson said in a statement. “And we will not be able to provide critical medical care to the most vulnerable in our community.”
However, people are still allowed outside for exercise like walking, hiking and bike riding – while maintaining 6 feet of distance.
On Friday, Washington governor Jay Inslee said he did not have immediate plans for a similar statewide mandate, but would evaluate the need for one depending on how people comply with requests for social distancing.
Whitman County, Wash. – Moscow, Idaho
Also on Sunday the Whitman County health department confirmed its first case of COVID-19. The patient, a female in her 20s, is recovering and self-isolating at home.
Across the border in Idaho, Latah County does not have any confirmed cases – yet. But Moscow city officials are taking preventative measures. The city council voted Friday to close bars and restaurants for in-house service until May 5 – though food pick-up and delivery are still allowed. Social gatherings in Moscow are also limited to 10 or fewer people.
Washington’s earlier statewide closure of bars, restaurants and other business is set to expire April 1, but that could be extended depending on how the state health department sees the effectiveness of social distancing measures.
Emergency Declaration – By AP Staff
The federal disaster declaration for Washington state will provide federal assistance for both emergency protective measures and crisis counseling, the White House said. Gov. Jay Inslee said the federal declaration was appreciated but added it was a “first step” that doesn’t go far enough.
In a statement Inslee said “today’s declaration does not unlock many forms of federal assistance we have requested to help workers and families who are badly hurting. We will continue working with our federal partners to deliver the full suite of disaster assistance that is sorely needed in our state, such as expanded unemployment benefits for workers who lose their paychecks as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.”
Trump also said Sunday he’d ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to ship mobile hospital centers to the hard-hit states of Washington, California and New York amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Health officials reported Sunday there have been at least 95 coronavirus deaths in Washington state and nearly 2,000 confirmed cases.
And the state Department of Health said that on Saturday it received a shipment of medical supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile, including more than 133,000 masks, more than 104,000 gloves and more than 26,000 gowns. The equipment will be sent to counties. Health workers in the state have complained about a lack of things like masks as they treat COVID-19 patients.
Also, Inslee named retired Navy Vice Admiral Raquel C. Bono as the director for the state’s COVID-19 Health System Response Management.
She is currently a senior fellow with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory As the former chief executive officer and director for the Defense Health Agency, Bono led a joint, integrated support agency that enabled all branches of the U.S. military medical services to provide health care to people in combat. Inslee’s appointment was effective immediately.
“Vice Admiral Bono will help bolster our existing coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic across our state’s health care system,” Inslee said.
For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death. The vast majority of people recover.
Washington also announced that all state campgrounds would be closed until April 30.
Associated Press reporting was used in this story.
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