Gov. Inslee says president’s messaging hurt Washington State

VIDEO: Gov. Inslee says president's messaging hurt Washington state

SEATTLE — Gov. Jay Inslee told KIRO 7 that President Donald Trump downplayed the danger of coronavirus in February and hurt Washington State’s ability to respond to the pandemic.

"The day that he sort of called this a hoax, I issued an emergency declaration for the state of Washington. Those are two very contradictory messages and I do think his messaging to some degree debilitated and made ours more difficult to convince people how deadly this disease was,” said Inslee.

Inslee spoke with KIRO 7 anchor Dave Wagner about state efforts to monitor nursing homes and long-term care facilities. A cluster of cases at Life Care Center of Kirkland resulted in one-third of the residents dying from COVID-19. Inslee said there needs to be “some major league infection control systems” and lamented about the loss of life.

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“The loss of hundreds of Washingtonians is just so painful and I’ve never lost the recognition that these are people, not numbers.”

Inslee praised state efforts saying leaders were “unified” and acted, “quickly and decisively.” The governor issued a statewide stay-at-home order on March 23. The decision came two months after Washington’s first-known COVID-19 case.

“It seems intuitive that earlier would be better, but public health experts have told me if you do it too early, you lose the public support and you want the public support right in the meat of the epidemic," Inslee said.

Inslee warned Washingtonians of a “rocky road” ahead, but said lifesaving lessons have been learned.

“This is an experience that is going to be searing," Inslee said. "We’re not going to forget it. It will prepare us psychologically for the next insult that we have.”

See Dave Wagner’s full interview with Gov. Inslee in the video above.