Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to give televised statewide speech tonight

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Gov. Jay Inslee will give a statewide address Monday night to discuss additional plans to slow the spread of coronavirus as health officials reported the number of deaths in Washington state topped 100.

Inslee’s office, in a news release announcing the address, said that he will “lay out enhanced strategies to mitigate the COVID-19 outbreak.”

The latest update from the state Department of Health showed there have been at least 110 coronavirus deaths in the state and more than 2,200 confirmed cases.

Health officials reported Sunday there have been at least 95 coronavirus deaths in Washington state and nearly 2,000 confirmed cases. Earlier Monday, Boeing announced it was shutting down its Seattle-area production facilities for two weeks. In a written statement, Inslee said he applauded Boeing’s decision “to implement an orderly shutdown and continue to pay its workers during this difficult time.”

“Now is a time for bold actions like these, and we will continue to look at what can be done statewide,” Inslee wrote.

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Shuksan Healthcare Center, a skilled nursing center in Bellingham, had 29 new cases confirmed on Sunday, according to the Whatcom County Health Department. The Bellingham Herald reports 23 of the new cases were residents while six were Shuksan employees.

The new cases bring the total number of ill Shuksan residents and employees to 32 when added to the three confirmed cases — all residents — announced by the health department on Saturday.

“The Whatcom County Health Department recognizes the significance and impact of this situation. We are working with Shuksan Healthcare Center to do everything possible for all patients, their families and staff,” said Mark Raaka, emergency preparedness specialist for the health department said in a release on Sunday night.

The ill residents were being cared for at Shuksan.

The state has already closed schools through late April, banned events and large gatherings and ordered bars to close and restaurants to serve only take out or delivery options and state and local leaders continue to urge people to stay at home and practice social distancing, but not everyone is following the advice. People have hit the trails, parks and beaches despite warnings.

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, and the vast majority recover. But for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

King County Search and Rescue is now asking people to avoid hiking so that its volunteers don’t have to respond and use their valued personal protective equipment if called.

President Donald Trump on Sunday issued a major disaster declaration for Washington and ordered federal assistance for the state, tribal and local response to the outbreak. The declaration grants the state’s request for assistance with crisis counseling and training to address the impact of the outbreak on the mental health of those affected by the outbreak, but Inslee’s office said that other disaster assistance programs requested by the governor remain under review by the White House, including expanded unemployment assistance and basic food benefits.

Also Sunday, Inslee named retired Navy Vice Admiral Raquel C. Bono, who is currently a senior fellow with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, as the director for the state’s COVID-19 health care response team.