A “Here we go again” sign is seen at the Vintage Cafe in Everett on Dec. 4. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

A “Here we go again” sign is seen at the Vintage Cafe in Everett on Dec. 4. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

Governor extends COVID-19 restrictions until Jan. 4

Jay Inslee also announced another $50 million in economic relief and could boost unemployment payments.

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee announced Tuesday he is extending, through the holidays to Jan. 4, statewide restrictions on businesses and social gatherings intended to curb spread of the coronavirus, as key pandemic metrics continue to worsen locally and across Washington.

“Just like Thanksgiving, all of us are going to have an opportunity to save lives while continuing to be responsible and not have large gatherings,” Inslee said during a televised news conference. “It was the right thing to do in November. It will be the right thing to do in December.”

He’s also adding another $50 million to the state’s $135 million relief fund for hurting businesses.

Additionally, if Congress fails to pass another stimulus bill by the end of the month, the state will bolster payments for the nearly 100,000 Washingtonians receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which is set to expire on Dec. 26, Inslee said.

The governor didn’t specify what the added benefit would be, but said, “it will be a pretty healthy amount.”

“We will not allow people to fall off that cliff in the state of Washington if Congress does not act,” he said.

The latest restrictions — which prohibit indoor dining and closed gyms, movie theaters and other businesses — took effect in November. They were previously set to expire next Monday.

At the time they were imposed, the governor called it the “most dangerous public health day” the state had faced in 100 years. Later in November, Inslee announced the state would more than double an economic relief package for businesses and workers.

Early data show the spread of the virus may be slowing, but it’s too early to tell, Inslee said. It could take another week to see if cases rose due to Thanksgiving gatherings.

“Our sense is that we have decreased the acceleration, and that’s good news,” state Secretary of Health Dr. John Wiesman said. “At the time the governor implemented these rollbacks, we were accelerated very quickly over just a matter of days. Now we need to exercise the patience of giving the data enough time to see if we are indeed approaching a plateau or not.”

Statewide, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID are still on the rise.

That’s the case in Snohomish County, as well.

Across the county, 22 people died of COVID-19 between Nov. 21 and 28, mirroring numbers previously seen last spring.

As of Tuesday, local hospitals were filled with 87 confirmed and six suspected COVID patients.

And the latest two-week case rate shows 428 new infections per 100,000 residents — up from 368 per 100,000 the previous week.

On Tuesday, the Snohomish Health District reported a cumulative 16,733 cases since last January, up 267 from the day before, and 317 total deaths in the county. Fourteen of the 87 confirmed COVID-19 patients presently hospitalized are on ventilators.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” county health officer Dr. Chris Spitters said Tuesday. “We have dozens of people dying a week from a communicable disease, the transmission of which is ongoing and widespread. It’s severe.”

The majority of new infections are in people 20 to 49 years old, data show. However, cases are rising among every age group.

And you’re most likely to get COVID through exposure by a close contact, like a roommate, family member, friend or co-worker.

The widespread transmission, Spitters has said, includes many in long-term care homes, where residents are most vulnerable to severe illness or death from COVID.

There are more than 500 cases across outbreaks at 44 such facilities in Snohomish County, the largest being Josephine Caring Community in Stanwood, which could have the largest long-term-care outbreak the state has seen.

The Stanwood facility has more than 170 confirmed cases and at least 15 deaths since late October, the Snohomish Health District reported last week.

“The outbreak there is not over,” Spitters said. “But they’re working well with our staff and doing their best to get over it.”

Inslee’s announcement came as state and county leaders were preparing for the first shipments of a COVID vaccine.

The state anticipates 219,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 182,000 doses from Moderna by the end of the month, Wiesman said.

With limited early supply, the first doses will go to high-risk health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require to people to receive two doses, separated by three to four weeks.

Joey Thompson: 425-339-3449; jthompson@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @byjoeythompson.

Talk to us

More in Local News

The Everett Police Department was investigating a woman's death Sunday morning after a driver hit and killed her on Broadway in north Everett. (Everett Police Department)
Woman killed by suspected impaired driver in Everett

A driver reportedly hit the person, which prompted the closure of Broadway between 17th and 19th streets Sunday morning.

Charges: North Everett murder suspect caught on camera

Jeremiah Stringfellow, 27, is being held on first-degree murder charges for the fatal shooting of Naej Belledent, 22.

Police: Snohomish man fled to Oregon after Arlington shooting

The wounded man, 30, was left in critical condition. The suspect, 39, was arrested for investigation of first-degree assault.

A snow plow clears snow off of 92nd Avenue West on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Another dusting, with more snow on the way in Snohomish County?

Light snow showers hit the area Friday morning. Another system was coming in the evening. And yet another next week.

Pedestrian killed in hit-and-run collision on Highway 99

Glenn Starks was walking on the shoulder south of Everett when a car struck him, police say. The car’s driver ran away from the scene.

Monroe High School (Monroe School District)
‘Set for the next four years’: Monroe schools levy officially passes

The levy funds 14% of the district’s budget including athletics, extracurricular activities and some transportation services.

The Washington State Patrol was investigating a fatal crash involving multiple vehicles Thursday on Highway 530 near Oso. (Washington State Patrol)
Darrington man identified in fatal 4-vehicle crash on Highway 530

Ryan Gray was driving east of Arlington when he rear-ended a Jeep, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Lisa Lefeber, CEO of the Port of Everett, speaks to a crowd while in front of a sign celebrating the opening of the new Norton Terminal on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, at the Port of Everett in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Port of Everett christens new Norton cargo terminal

The $40 million terminal took two years to complete and doubles the port’s storage capacity.

Snow lingered outside the office building of Receivables Performance Management on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Lynnwood data breach exposed sensitive info for 3.7 million across US

Lawsuits allege lax security at a debt collection agency led to the attack. It wasn’t announced for over a year.

Most Read