Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday that Washington’s COVID-19 emergency orders and the years-long state of emergency are set to end by Oct. 31.
According to an update delivered by the governor during a Thursday news conference, nearly 75% of Inslee’s 85 COVID-19 emergency orders have already been lifted, while an additional 13 health care related orders will end Oct. 27.
The remaining 10 orders, including the underlying state of emergency, will be lifted on Oct. 31.
Although the state’s emergency orders are ending, the statewide face covering order will remain in place for health care workers, long-term care settings, and correctional facilities.
Vaccination requirements for health care and education workers will end, though employers can require vaccines if they choose.
“We’ve come a long way the past two years in developing the tools that allow us to adapt and live with COVID-19,” Inslee said. “Ending this order does not mean we take it 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.”
The governor further mentioned that with Washington having been the first state in the country with a reported case of COVID-19, the state’s mitigation measures resulted in one of the lowest per capita death rates in the U.S.
Inslee’s office estimates that if the rest of the nation had the same death rate as Washington’s, about 433,000 lives would have been saved.
“Governor Inslee’s rescission of these remaining emergency orders marks an important transition for the state of Washington, but that does not mean that COVID-19 is not in our state anymore,” said Secretary of Health Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH. “We must move forward from a pandemic response to adapting our behaviors to coexist with the COVID-19 virus.”
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