Hes concerned.
He's concerned. JOHN MOORE / GETTY IMAGES

Looking at the latest report from the Institute for Disease Modeling (IDM) at a press conference Friday, Gov. Jay Inslee said he was "very concerned" about the relatively flat COVID-19 transmission rates across the state.

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In both Western and Eastern Washington overall, transmission rates have "likely" been increasing since the beginning of April. The west is roughly at a reproductive number of 1 (or, R1), and the east is slightly above R1. That means one infected person is spreading the disease only to one other person west of the mountains, while one infected person is spreading the disease to a little more than one person east of the mountains. In King County, that R number is estimated at 0.9. If those numbers climb much higher, "we will see exponential growth" again, Inslee said, which could throw a wrench in reopening plans.

Not great!
Not great! IDM

IDM's analysis stops on April 22, but daily reported case counts from the Department of Health have been hovering between 200 and 300 for the last couple weeks, which has also "concerned" State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy in recent press conferences. So, mask up and spread out, people.

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DOH

That analysis aside, Inslee announced that Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman approved applications from five counties that asked to move on to Phase 2 of reopening sooner than June 1, which is when they estimate the rest of the state will be able to procure professional hair cuts, buy some pants in a store, pay for house cleaners, head back to the office, and patronize restaurants running at half capacity. Those five counties include Columbia, Garfield, Lincoln, Ferry, and Pend Oreille. The DOH is currently reviewing waiver applications from Kittitas, Skamania, and Wahkiakum Counties, and they've determined Stevens County is ineligible.

Inslee also announced new protocols for curb-side retail, pet walkers, and landscapers. Those sectors can open immediately. The guidance allows stores to deliver goods and set up "designated pickup areas" for customers, and permits landscapers to start cutting all this goddamn grass and pet walkers to start walking all these dogs, all while maintaining a safe distance from others.

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This week Inslee's office, in consultation with industry lobbyists and the DOH, has been pumping out similar guidance sheets for other sectors approved to open during Phase 1. So far those sectors include car and boat dealers, drive-in church services, and car washing businesses. The Seattle Times reports some confusion about this process, particularly from the Brown Bear Car Wash chain, but that seems to be cleared up now. Drivers are now free to buy a car, hire professionals to clean it, and worship their god in a parking lot.

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Of course, the state's reopening plan is only as good as its testing capacity, and its testing capacity is only as good as its stockpile of testing supplies. Inslee's been all over the news the last few weeks reminding the Trump administration of its commitment to send more swabs and swab-transport media, and today he said the state received its first "significant" delivery of supplies, which amounted to 37,000 swabs. Inslee has been told we'll get 60,000 more swabs by next week, followed by weekly shipments of more than 100,000 swabs, he said, adding that we'll still need to increase our supplies if we want to get back to school and to work.

And finally, on the day America learned that its jobless rate rose to 14.7%, the governor addressed the "sharp increase" in scammers stealing identities and filing fraudulent unemployment claims in Washington, vowing to catch those criminals and to treat them with "minimal respect." So stop slowing down the process, and watch your fucking ass, scammers!