Washington governor extends ‘stay home’ order until May 4, says it’s ‘absolutely the soonest’ state could re-open

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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaking at a 2019 event in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Monica Nickelsburg)

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee extended the state’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order for an additional month Thursday. The rules, which shutter all non-essential businesses and forbid people from leaving their homes with a few exceptions, will remain in place until May 4.

“May 4th is absolutely the soonest we could achieve our ends to keep our loved ones safe,” Inslee said.

Coronavirus Live Updates: The latest COVID-19 developments in Seattle and the world of tech

The executive order requires Washingtonians to stay home except for essential activities, including grocery shopping and doctor appointments. Inslee announced new enforcement measures earlier this week after officials received thousands of calls reporting gatherings and other suspected violations of the rules. Individuals violating the stay-home order could face citations, while businesses could have their license revoked, Inslee said.

The order does not apply to emergency services, manufacturing, food and agriculture, transportation, or financial services. Grocery stores, pharmacies, and food delivery services will remain open, as will cannabis, liquor, and convenience stores.

States across the country are taking similar measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, leading to record unemployment and an uncertain economic future.

A record 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, up from the previous record of 3.3 million set the week prior. Washington state claims rose 44% to 187,501. Layoffs are hitting all industries hard, including technology companies. Seattle startups Rover, Usermind, Zenoti, and Amplero all announced cuts this week.

Inslee said that an aggressive approach now gives Washington’s economy the best chance of recovery down the line.

“To rescue Washington’s economy, we’ve got to preserve lives and defeat this virus,” he said.

Meanwhile, reported coronavirus cases in Washington and beyond continue to rise. More than 6,000 people in Washington have tested positive for the virus and 250 have died from complications associated with it. Inslee said Washington is “yet to see the full weight of this virus in our state.”

Researchers at the University of Washington predict the virus will peak in April and could result in up to 1,429 deaths in the state by Aug. 4.

But the latest data suggests Washington’s social distancing measures may be slowing the virus’s spread. Washington is not seeing the exponential growth in cases that New York and New Jersey are experiencing.

“We’re not out of the woods yet, and we shall never flag or fail in our commitments to win this battle,” Inslee said. “We will not accept unnecessary deaths in our state.”

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