2:11 PM: Just underway – Governor Inslee has gathered media by phone and videoconference “to provide an update on the state’s COVID-19 response.” The pre-event advisory adds, “The governor plans to focus on the need for manufacturers to step up and provide personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies in the fight against the spread of the virus.” We’re carrying it live so you can hear for yourself what he has to say; we’ll also publish as-it-happens notes, and we’ll leave the video window up since TVW usually makes the archived version available shortly after the event ends.
He reminds everyone that whatever the difficulties we’re all going through, we need to keep in our hearts the 200+ people who have died. He says now that it’s April, this could be the “decisive month.” He moves into the expression of appreciation for those working to make PPE available. He introduces business reps who have been working on this effort. The state has distributed more than a million pieces of PPE already, from “three supply lines.” But along with protection equipment, items for testing – like vials – are needed too, “What we have done so far is not enough.” Orders out to the feds aren’t being fulfilled quickly enough, so “We need to seize our own destiny,” as the state did in World War II. So he’s asking “all businesspeople, all skilled workers, all leaders” to ask themselves if they could “change what they’re making now” and instead make what’s needed. “This is a moment that counts.” If you can, go to coronavirus.wa.gov and sign up to help.
After a couple testimonials from business reps, the governor says even making part of a needed piece of equipment is important. He then moves on to another topic: He’s given “guidance” to mortgage companies to find ways to help mortgageholders. He also notes that 130 National Guard members are mobilizing to help food banks across the state, in many cases replacing volunteers who need to stay home because they’re in at-risk groups. He also says he’s concerned about reports of hate crimes – “all humanity ought to be respected in this fight.” Then he acknowledges encouraging reports about how social distancing is working in our state, even better than in some others. But he says we can’t let up now – so it will be likely the stay-home order will be extended, though he says he’s not ready to make that announcement now – more likely in the next few days.
And he reminds everyone to fill out their Census form “so we get treated fairly” with an accurate count of how many people are in the state.
2:31 PM: On to media Q&A. Asked whether his potential extension of the stay-home order would be for a full month, the governor said he hasn’t decided yet, lists the various factors he’s been monitoring, and says “we’re going to make the right decision … soon” because “victory … is the (only) option.” Other questions include potential additional duties for the National Guard – would they be used in enforcement? Highly unlikely, the gov says, especially given that they’ve announced other means of enforcement, such as the reporting/warning system now set up via the state.”The Guard is there to help us mostly with logistics … with some of the construction, delivery of food … life and safety issues.” Another question: Does our state have a ventilator shortage? If people obey the stay-home order, probably not, Inslee replies. … He’s also asked about the backlog in unemployment filings, and says he understands the frustration – “We’ve been hit by an avalanche of unprecedented claims” and the state is hiring 200 people to help process them “as fast as possible.”
2:58 PM: The governor wraps up. As noted above, TVW should have the archived version of the video turned around soon.