Gov. Inslee limits social gatherings as COVID-19 cases continue to climb

Phase 3 social gatherings reduced from 50 people to 10 people

Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Washington Secretary of Health John Wiesman last week announced a new limit on social gatherings and a ban on live entertainment across the state due to increasing COVID-19 cases.

Inslee announced the new limitations on social gatherings on July 16, after the state experienced its highest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began in January. The state Department of Health reported 1,292 new cases on July 16, out of the 19,381 cumulative cases statewide.

The seven-day rolling average of new cases per day, from June 26 to July 2, was 629 cases per day. This also was the state’s highest seven-day rolling average since the pandemic began.

“The steps are necessary to slow down the spread of COVID-19. The unfortunate truth is that we can’t let our guard down, even as we engage in more activities,” Inslee said during a press conference held Thursday, July 16. “As we inch closer to the fall, we are already on an unsustainable path in the spread of this virus. We have to change to save lives and to avoid turning the dial back further on the activities we enjoy.”

The order went into effect on Monday, July 20.

Under the new “Safe Start” phase limits, the number of individuals allowed in social gatherings during Phase 3 are reduced from 50 people to 10 people. Counties in Phase 2, including Clark County, may continue to have social gatherings of up to five people.

The restrictions apply only to social gatherings, such as parties, social clubs and gatherings in parks. The do not to business operations operating legally under the Safe Start guidance. Funerals, weddings and religious activities also are exempt from the new restrictions.

A press release from Inslee’s office said recent evidence suggests that the virus is most easily and commonly spread through face-to-face interactions, such as gatherings in the home, at social gatherings and in work settings.

“How individuals respond to this crisis will determine what happens to all of us combined,” Inslee said. “Masking and social distancing — in tandem — are the best defenses against this virus.”

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