Washington Governor Jay Inslee tests positive for COVID-19; officials urge masking

Washington Governor Jay Inslee tested positive for COVID-19 and is experiencing "very mild" symptoms, his office announced Wednesday.

In a statement, Inslee’s office said the Democratic governor tested positive on a rapid antigen test and is experiencing mild symptoms, including a cough. Inslee is working from home and setting up antiviral treatments.

Inslee added that he was thankful to be vaccinated and boosted.

"I am experiencing very mild symptoms and am most glad I’m vaccinated and boosted," Inslee said. "I hope others consider getting their booster because it’s very effective in preventing serious illness."

"Aside from having a slight cough, the governor is feeling well and in typical good spirits," said Jaime Smith, Inslee’s communications director. "He is working from home and will soon receive antiviral treatments. As we’re seeing, the current COVID variants are extremely contagious and vaccinations remain the most important tool to protecting ourselves against serious illness, hospitalization and death. We hope every eligible Washingtonian takes advantage of these life-saving tools."

At a news conference the state’s public health leaders said they weren’t issuing mandates but "strongly recommending" masks be worn indoors in crowded or confined places.

"This is the time to remind ourselves that this pandemic is not over," said Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah.

COVID-19 infections surging in some Washington counties

Clallam and San Juan counties have been rated 'high risk' for contracting COVID-19 by the CDC. King, Snohomish and Jefferson counties have moved into the 'medium risk' category.

Lieutenant Governor Denny Heck shortly after announced he also tested positive for COVID-19. His office notes Heck and Inslee have not been in proximity with each other

Heck previously tested positive for the virus in February, and says he feels only mild symptoms akin to "a bad head cold."

Heck says he is treating his COVID-19 with Paxlovid, an FDA-approved antiviral pill for the coronavirus. He released the following statement:

"I’ve tested positive for COVID-19. I’m working from home and experiencing mild but unpleasant symptoms, similar to a bad head cold.

"I’m glad to be vaccinated and double-boosted. I know my symptoms could be much worse if I wasn’t vaccinated, and I urge everyone eligible for a booster shot to go and get one.

"I’ve begun a regimen of Paxlovid, one of the antiviral pills approved by the FDA for fighting COVID-19. Paxlovid and other treatments are now widely available in Washington state. I encourage anyone "who tests positive to talk with their doctor or pharmacist about treatment options.

"I previously tested positive in February but experienced no symptoms. Unfortunately COVID-19 reinfections can happen, and that’s another good reason to go and get that booster shot.

"I look forward to resuming my full public schedule once cleared to do so."

As of early May, the state recorded a seven-day infection rate of about 245.3 cases per 100,000 people, or about 2,600 new infections per day. In mid-March, Washington’s infection rate was about 40.4 cases per 100,000.

Hospitalizations recently surpassed about six COVID hospital admissions per 100,000, or about 67 new hospitalizations per day — up from fewer than two hospitalizations per 100,000 in early April.

The state’s COVID death rate hasn’t seen significant changes in recent months, and has consistently been on the decline since late January, according to Department of Health data.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.