Click above to watch/listen – Gov. Inslee is presenting a pandemic update with media Q&A, centered on the newly unveiled WA Notify app, which can tell you – without revealing anyone’s identity – whether anyone you’ve been near tests positive for COVID-19. He’ll also likely be asked about the state of the current restrictions, midway through the initially announced four-week period. Notes as it goes …
2:41 PM: He starts by saying he was on a conference call about COVID vaccines today, and distribution is expected to start soon. He asks providers to sign up ASAP – those who sign up by December 6th could be among the first to get supplies.
Then on to WA Notify. He stresses that the app is anonymous, not revealing or sharing identities or locations. It’s entirely voluntary to activate or download. He says 200,000 people already have downloaded or enabled since it went live this morning. So what does closeness – making you eligible for an alert – mean? It uses the CDC definition – within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more. But it’s “not a failsafe for whether or not you’ve been exposed to COVID-19,” he warns – it’s “another tool.”
Joining him is University of Washington president Ana Mari Cauce, talking about the UW’s role in developing and testing WA Notify, and stressing its privacy protections.
2:52 PM: Inslee notes that applications will open soon for the new small-business grants and urges businesses to be ready to apply via coronavirus.wa.gov. Then it’s on to Q&A. When will we know about a Thanksgiving spike? Probably not for another week or so, Secretary of Health John Wiesman says, while adding that hospitalizations are still increasing.
3:04 PM: More questions about the vaccines – yes, the state is still planning an independent review, but that’s expected to be quick; the governor says he has “more and more confidence” in the federal review. Secretary Wiesman says they’re still finalizing the prioritization of who gets it when.
In response to another question, he says there are no “imminent announcements” regarding restrictions, and the most important thing people can do is continue to behave safely. Regarding whether the restrictions will lift in mid-December or continue, “There’s no imminent decisions in that regard, nor can we make them today” – it all depends on what course the pandemic takes, and personal behavior can affect that in a big way.
3:17 PM: Back to the app. It’s a complement to existing contact tracing. For more on how it works and how to use it, go here…. And another vaccine question: The governor stresses it will take months of vaccinations before enough people are vaccinated “to break the chain of transmission.” … The state is seeking the Moderna vaccine as well as the one it’s slated to get first, the Pfizer vaccine, and expects to get both, Secretary Wiesman said.
3:36 PM: The briefing ends with the governor noting that WA Notify is another way to have some power over the pandemic. (The video window above should convert to the archived recording of the briefing soon.)