OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee again blasted President Donald Trump’s call to “liberate” parts of the country from state stay-at-home and other orders designed to combat the spread of the coronavirus, saying Sunday that Trump is fomenting a potentially deadly “insubordination” before the pandemic is contained.
Inslee’s comments on ABC-TV’s “ This Week ” came as protesters in various cities around the country have called for an end to stay-at-home orders that governors of both parties say are essential to curbing the pandemic’s spread. Such a rally was planned later Sunday in Olympia, Washington’s capital.
Asked about Trump’s tweets last week that included “Liberate Michigan” and “Liberate Virginia” from governors’ orders, Inslee replied:
“I don’t know any other way to characterize it, when we have an order from governors, both Republicans and Democrats, that basically are designed to protect people’s health, literally their lives, to have a president of the United States basically encourage insubordination, to encourage illegal activity.
“To have an American president to encourage people to violate the law, I can’t remember any time during my time in America where we have seen such a thing,” Inslee continued.
The governor said Trump’s statements were “doubly frustrating” and exhibited “such a schizophrenia” because they contradict guidelines on reopening state economies issued last week by the White House. Those guidelines leave it to the states to determine when to relax social distancing restrictions that have forced millions of nonessential businesses to shut down.
“Under those guidelines, you need to see a decline in the infections and fatalities. And that simply has not happened yet,” Inslee said.
Washington state has more than 11,800 confirmed virus cases and at least 624 deaths, according to the state Department of Health.
Inslee, who also criticized Trump’s tweets on Friday, has said he is planning to reopen the economy in phases, likely starting with businesses. The governor has said some restrictions could potentially stay in place beyond May 4.
Washington state had the nation’s first confirmed coronavirus case in January and the first deadly cluster at a Seattle-area nursing home.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. But it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death for some people, especially older adults and people with existing health problems.
On Friday, Washington state Republican legislative leaders released their plan for reopening Washington’s economy. It specifies some lower-risk industries — such as residential construction, auto dealers and solo landscapers — that could reopen soon.