OLYMPIA, WA — In a rare televised address Thursday night, Gov. Jay Inslee and his wife, Trudy, addressed the state, pleading for families to stay home this holiday season in the hopes that it will help tamp down on the recent, exponential explosion of new coronavirus infections in Washington.
“We’d like to talk tonight about what is being called the ‘third wave of COVID-19, and how we can protect our families,” Inslee began. “Simply put, we have to rethink these holidays, so we may be thankful when we don’t lose more lives to COVID.”
Inslee was joined by wife Trudy in calling for families to stay home, and not to gather with people from outside their households. Trudy lamented that the Inslee family would dearly miss their holiday traditions, but that it is important for everyone to do everything within their power to prevent further COVID-19 transmissions.
“We are all fatigued, and it’s OK to not feel OK right now,” Trudy said. “But what happens next in our state depends on what happens in our families and in our homes. That’s why we implore you to rethink spending time with people from outside your household on Thanksgiving, and the December holidays.”
Related: How To Celebrate Thanksgiving Safely In Washington
The address did not include new restrictions on businesses or activities allowed during the pandemic, as some had feared, but the governor did hint that restrictions were being considered and may be updated in the coming days.
“In the next few days we will be announcing some further measures to prevent this from spreading,” the governor said. “These decisions will affect what we do outside the home, but what’s most urgent right now is what we do in our own dwellings.”
Unlike a traditional news conference the press was not allowed to ask follow-up questions to the governor or first lady. The last time Inslee held a similar address, was back on March 23, when he first officially announced his pandemic lockdown strategy, the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order.
The governor’s address comes amid the largest spike in coronavirus transmissions the state has seen since the pandemic began in spring. After halting the daily updates on coronavirus infections to observe Veterans Day Wednesday, the state Department of Health reported 3,345 new COVID-19 infections over the past two days combined. That’s an average of 1,672.5 infections for each day, and a continuation of a record-breaking trend.
“Here’s the facts: Our weekly average of new COVID cases has doubled just in the last two weeks,” warned Inslee. ” We are in as dangerous a position today as we were in March. We’re in a period of what’s called “exponential growth” and every single day matters. We cannot wait until our hospitals’ halls are lined with gurneys waiting for rooms, before we take decisive action.”
The governor’s address was not all doom-and-gloom however, and did leave room for hope: hope that staying home would work to prevent further illnesses and deaths, and hope that this would be a one-time affair.
“Here’s some good news: We’re only going to have to do this once. This is a unique Thanksgiving and holiday season,” Inslee said. “We’re thankful that more therapeutics are on the way, as is the imminent arrival of a vaccine. There is a lot more at our disposal to fight this virus than there was when the pandemic began. We are optimistic that Thanksgiving 2021 will be the best ever.”
The governor’s address echoed prior concerns from the Washington State Department of Health, who earlier issued the following guidance to reduce COVID-19 transmission during the holidays:
Limit in-person gatherings as much as possible. That means reducing the number of times you gather, how many people attend and how long you spend together. Gather outside if possible, or open windows and doors to maximize ventilation inside.
Always wear a face covering when you’re around people who don’t live with you. This includes close friends and family. It may feel awkward to do this around people we know well and trust, but many people get COVID-19 from someone who doesn’t have symptoms yet. Even if you’re keeping some physical distance, it’s still a good idea to wear a face covering.
Talk to your family and friends about alternate ways to celebrate the holidays. Brainstorm ideas for virtual celebrations so you can still enjoy spending time together without putting each other at risk.
Make a safety plan for in-person gatherings. Have a conversation with your family and friends about what you’re going to do to reduce risk of spreading COVID-19 when you gather.
Stay home if you’re sick or have been exposed to COVID-19. If you’re feeling a little under the weather but aren’t sure if you’re getting sick, take the cautious approach and protect others by staying home.
Keep up your good hygiene habits. Wash or sanitize your hands often and avoid touching your face.
The governor and first lady ended their address Thursday by thanking frontline workers, and all Washingtonians for the work they have done and the hardships they have endured toughing out the pandemic.
And thank you to the 7.6 million Washingtonians who have each others’ backs every day, and who we are eternally grateful to call partners in this fight.
— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) November 13, 2020
This article originally appeared on the Seattle Patch