Inslee announces plan for state’s COVID-19 contact tracing system

VIDEO: Inslee announces plan for state's COVID-19 contract tracing system

OLYMPIA, Wash. — More testing and contact tracing will be done, and those infected with the new coronavirus will be quarantined for 14 days.

That's the crucial next step in Gov. Jay Inslee's plan to box in the virus and press forward for the state's reopening.

“It is the thing that gives us an opportunity to give confidence to move forward to reopen our economy,” he said at a news conference Wednesday.

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The 14-day quarantine will apply to anyone infected and everyone in the same household, Inslee said, adding that they will be contacted by phone or text message to see how they are doing, and if they need any food or medical attention.

The goal of contact tracing is to “box in the virus,” Inslee said. The plan has five parts.

  • Quarantine upon first symptoms and stay quarantined until receiving a negative test result.
  • Test widely
  • Isolate quickly
  • Identify contacts
  • Quarantine contacts

About 350 National Guard troops will be among the nearly 1,400 contact tracers ready to get to work by the end of this week.

“The information collected is only used by public health. It is confidential, it will not be shared. Contacts will not be told the name of the person who have exposed themselves to COVID-19,” Inslee said.

The governor was also asked about businesses that have refused to comply with his shutdown order.

Several news reports have identified businesses, including a barbershop in Snohomish County, that have gone against the order and opened its doors for business.

“We understand how the press works and what ends up on the news. But the news I see is Washingtonians are doing what they should, which is protecting their families and themselves and their neighborhoods,” said Inslee.

Still, the governor had a warning for scofflaws.

“If they don’t, there are sanctions they will face, either in civil court or in criminal court. I spoke to the attorney general about this today. We’ll have more to say about this in the days to come.”