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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday announced revised coronavirus restrictions, limiting indoor and outdoor social gatherings for counties in the third phase of a four-stage reopening plan to 10, down from 50.

And he warned that additional rollbacks could occur, even a potential return to a stay-at-home order, if current trends continue.

"How individuals respond to this crisis will determine what happens to all of us," he said, encouraging people to wear facial coverings and maintain physical distancing.

COVID-19 activity has recently spiked in the state, which saw the first reported case in the United States in January, as well as the nation's first deadly cluster in a nursing home east of Seattle that began in late February.

The restriction on gatherings for the 17 counties in Phase 3 (includes Lincoln and Kittitas) - which takes effect Monday - does not apply to spiritual services, weddings and funerals at this time. Under the Democratic governor's new directive, all live indoor and outdoor entertainment will also be banned at that time.

Inslee cited a seven-day average of 629 new cases a day for the week of June 26-July, noting that it was the highest since the pandemic began. On Thursday afternoon authorities reported 1,266 new confirmed cases, though authorities said that included a backlog of about 300 from Yakima County.

Inslee said if the trends continue, officials would have to look at potential further restrictions, including bars, indoor dining at restaurants, bowling alleys and other recreational activities. Health Secretary John Weisman said the state is starting to see the impact of the 4th of July weekend, as well as other social gatherings, including birthday parties and cocktail parties.

"The bottom line is our attention to this can't be a part-time job," he said. "Every interaction we have, we have to think about doing it safely."

The latest order comes just days after Inslee announced that a statewide pause for counties looking to advance from their current stage of economic reopening - already in place for two weeks - will continue though at least July 28.

Phase 3 allows gyms and movie theaters to operate at half capacity and restaurants to increase capacity to 75%. A prohibition on bar seating at restaurants and taverns was added in this phase earlier this month. 

Seventeen counties are currently in Phase 2, which allows restaurants and taverns to operate at half capacity with limited table sizes, hair and nail salons and barber shops to resume business, and retail stores to reopen for in-store purchases at 30% capacity. It also allows additional outdoor recreation and gatherings with no more than five people outside of a person's household.

Five counties - Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Franklin and Yakima - are currently the only counties in a modified Phase 1 of reopening, which allows some additional business activity beyond essential businesses.

Last week, an enhanced statewide order took effect that requires businesses to refuse service to customers who don't wear facial coverings. That order builds on previous mask requirements issued last month.

Earlier this week, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced a ban on indoor social gatherings of more than 10 people and a requirement that people wear face coverings outside if they can not socially distance. And in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom once again closed bars, inside dining and, for much of the state, gyms, indoor church services and hair and nail salons.

More than 44,000 people have tested positive for the virus in Washington state and more than 1,400 have died.

The virus causes mild to moderate symptoms in most patients, and the vast majority recover. But it is highly contagious and can cause severe illness and death in some patients, particularly the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. 

(20) comments

Desert Dweller

It's a virus, it doesn't care if you wear a mask, it will come through the mask after a little while, the mask will keep it inside with you if you are sick, but not completely. Your best bet is to keep your hands clean, keep your distance from other people, and pray.

It's a virus.

Telma@

I will not comply...I will take my chances and if I get sick then I get sick. I am 70 and do wear a mask and wash hand and have good hygiene but I need social contact for decent mental health.

1313 Mockingbird Lane

The governor is supposed to follow and make decisions based on the Washington State Constitution. Article 1, Section 1: All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights. . . . Get that? Maintain individual rights.

Section 4: Right of peaceful assemblage. The right of petition and of the people peaceably to assemble for the common good shall never be abridged. . . . Get that? No exceptions. Shall never be abridged. They knew about pandemics when they wrote this. The governor should know the constitution better than anyone in the state. If he does, he is deliberately defying it. On a side note, if I ask five people a day how many people they know who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, four out of five say they don't know anyone who has it. One or two people have said they know of someone in another city or another state who has it but not one of them know anyone who is sick from it. Does that sound like a pandemic? That's where each city or each county should be able to decide things and they should quit saying "new" cases. If you test 100 people in a day and they all test positive but aren't sick, the fact that they were just tested today doesn't make them a "new case"---which is misleading and sounds worse to those who have already been spun into a web of fear.

Cheburashka

And I have the individual right to not get sick from breathing your exhaled viruses. Thanks Jay!!!

@the real JohnQPublic

Oh no you don't. Your rights to remain uninfected are just a privilege. You should know that being aligned with the group that wishes to chip away at the 'rights' of others you disagree with. You know, like gun rights. Chipped away to the point of massive restriction and control. Didn't see that or your 'right' in the state constitution.

Fiberreadin

Good move! Without more seeing how serious this is before it effects them we will need to continue to have the Governor step in to take control of the situation. Guess what everyone, we do have a preventative measure for not catching this extremely contagious disease. Its WEARING A MASK and SOCIAL DISTANCING. Do your part so our kids can return to school.

Cheburashka

Makes sense. The more people, the higher the likelihood that one or more is sick and the more people potentially infected by that person.

cryingtoddlerlibs

I'm surprised the liberal boot lickers haven't showed up on this thread too tell everyone what to do and how only they are right!

@the real JohnQPublic

Yeah, where's Ifiber-Karen when we need her?

Cheburashka

We generally wait until someone makes a new point instead of the same tired points that have been shot down repeatedly. So far that hasn't happened.

@the real JohnQPublic

Ah, there you are!

1313 Mockingbird Lane

It's totally possible that they may be Soros funded disrupters . . . which are spreading like a pandemic. LOL.

Cheburashka

Or aliens. Or holograms.

Desert Dweller

This is gonna get really ugly.

This virus is gonna have to run it's course, and there's no escape.

The governor is just making it more painful and costly.

1313 Mockingbird Lane

. . . and taking advantage of the citizen's total ignorance of the Washington State Constitution. Here's just two examples: Article 1, Section 1: All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights. . . . . . . . Maintain individual rights. Section 4: Right of peaceful assemblage. The right of petition and of the people peaceably to assemble for the common good shall never be abridged. . . . Hmmmm. No exceptions. Shall never be abridged. They knew about pandemics when they wrote this. The governor should know the constitution better than anyone in the state. If he does, he is deliberately defying it. It's a good time for all of us to memorize it!

@the real JohnQPublic

Hey liberals, this is all Trump's fault somehow, right?

opinionscrossroad

What I don't get is how this IDIOT INSLEE just can't figure out that MOST people just do NOT care about this Virus.. There are a few vocal people on both side but for the majority of Washingtonians -- They don't care about it and aren't scared of it..

Even the people who have family who have had it say it's not as bad as the press leads on..

Sagacious Lu

No, just the tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths. I gave him the benefit of the doubt up to the end of February. After that, anyone with a mind would know better...if they actually cared about other human beings.

1313 Mockingbird Lane

And how do you like the tricky headlines where the article says something different. Like the headline "Coronavirus takes two lives in a week" then, in the first paragraph it says "The Grant County Health district reported two COVID-19 associated deaths . . . .what? Something fishy going on here. What is "Covid associated?" That could simply mean someone died of emphysema or COPD since both of those diseases have symptoms that are "associated" with COVID-19. Also, try this experiment. Ask ten random people each day if they know anyone who is sick or hospitalized with COVID-19. So far, everyone I ask says no except one or two people and usually they are referring to someone in another state and not one has known anyone who's hospitalized. We've never shut things down for the flu except school for a very short period of time but when the flu's going around everyone you asks knows someone who's sick with it. Fishy, Fishy Fishy! Maybe we should head to Olympia with our cans of Lysol as the smell of fish is wafting heavily from the Capitol. Also, some news channels report on numbers of COVID cases then say there's been (however many) deaths this week---but not saying COVID deaths. When they report it that way it possibly can be the total of all deaths but the listener is led to believe their just talking COVID-19 deaths. I think the only reason newscasters get paid enormous salaries is that they look at the dollar amount when their conscience tries to resurface and push it back down when they think about losing the big bucks.

Getrealman

You have some points. But help my reading by installing a paragraph or 2 please

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