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Shoppers wait to check out at Ferndale Grocery Outlet (March 13, 2020). Photo: My Ferndale News

COVID-19 update: Some businesses to close per state emergency proclamation

Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced yesterday, Sunday, March 15th, that today he will be signing a “statewide emergency proclamation to temporarily shut down restaurants, bars and entertainment and recreational facilities.” This “further expands protections against COVID-19,” according to Inslee.

In addition, all gatherings with over 50 participants will be prohibited and all gatherings under 50 participants will be prohibited “unless previously announced criteria for hygiene and social distancing are met.”

Social distancing – staying 6 feet or at least an arm’s length from others.

Inslee noted the following exceptions:

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  • Grocery stores and pharmacies will stay open
  • Restaurants may continue take-out and delivery service
  • Retail outlets can stay open but with reduced occupancy

Specifics on these mandates are expected during a press conference this morning.

This aligns with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidance for large events and mass gatherings that recommends organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.

Events of any size should only be continued if they can be carried out with adherence to guidelines for protecting vulnerable populationshand hygiene, and social distancing.  When feasible, organizers could modify events to be virtual.

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CDC’s Interim Guidance for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) (March 15, 2020)

These actions follow Inslee’s ban on gatherings of 250 or more on March 11th.

These are very difficult decisions, but hours count here and very strong measures are necessary to slow the spread of the disease. I know there will be significant economic impacts to all our communities and we are looking at steps to help address those challenges.

Governor Jay Inslee’s statement on a statewide shutdown of restaurants, bars and limits on size of gatherings expanded (March 15, 2020)

The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions has developed a list of financial resources for Washington residents impacted by the mandates in response to COVID-19. The Governor’s office has provided a similar list of resources for impacted Washington businesses and workers.

Similar and in some cases far more restrictive actions are being taken around the world. US travel from much of Europe, Britain and Ireland has been banned. Some countries, including Germany, Italy and Spain have hardened their borders limiting travel to some or all.

The expectation is such restrictions, globally and locally, will minimize the number of infected persons at any one time in order to prevent overwhelming limited healthcare service resources.

Scenario for the possible cumulative burden of COVID-19 infection in King and Snohomish counties. Based on data from China and other countries, deaths occur in approximately 1 percent of the infected population (averaged across all ages) with an average three week delay relative to infection. (Graphic courtesy of Institute for Disease Modeling, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute). Source: Washington State Governor’s Office

Consumer overstocking was the main reason for the lack of many supplies and food items

Shoppers wait to check out at Ferndale Grocery Outlet (March 13, 2020). Photo: My Ferndale News
Shoppers wait to check out at Ferndale Grocery Outlet (March 13, 2020). Photo: My Ferndale News

Last week consumers sometimes found empty shelves in place of the groceries they needed. The Washington State Department of Health reported Friday that consumer overstocking was the main reason for the lack of many supplies and food items, especially hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, toilet paper and plastic gloves.

We want the public to be assured that if they will return to their normal pace of grocery shopping that there will be an adequate supply of products for their consumption.

Jan Gee, president and CEO of the Washington Food Industry Association

Washington State Department of Health personal health guidance:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds multiple times a day
  • Hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol is recommended if you aren’t able to wash your hands with soap and water
  • Try to stay 6 feet away from others and stay away from others in larger social gatherings
  • Regularly disinfect surfaces in your home and work space
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Don’t buy more supplies than you absolutely need

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