On the last day of the Legislative Session, I received another briefing with the Washington Secretary of Health, John Wiesman. His top advice was to start practicing social distancing. What does that mean? Basically, avoid people whenever possible by working from home, canceling social events, and ensure you’re six feet or more away from people when you can’t avoid being in public.
Secretary Wiesman shared that if we don’t start limiting our contact, 25,000 people could be infected with COVID-19 and 500 people could die by April 5. Every single one of us can cut that number down just by decreasing our contact with others via social distancing.
How much impact can we make? If we decrease the average contact people have by 25 percent, the number of infections could drop to 9,700. With a 75 percent decrease, we could get that number of infections to 1,700 by April 5. Those numbers are huge and mean saved lives.
Not everyone can do that because of their job. But for those of us who are able, now is the time to help save some lives by spending some more time inside and away from others.
Here in the Legislature, we are taking this very seriously. I just voted for an updated budget that, combined with our Rainy Day Fund, has about $3.7 billion in reserves in case of economic impact. And I also voted for our coronavirus bill, which has $200 million in funding for coronavirus-response.
That money could be used to hire more nurses to get non-infected people out of hospital beds and into their nursing homes, clearing space for more COVID-19 patients. It could also go to setting up lab testing at the University of Washington to dramatically expand the number of tests we can do statewide. It also means restoring funding and reimbursing county departments of public health, who are the ones doing the investigating of potential cases and helping medical providers trace who is exposed when someone has a confirmed case of COVID-19.
Secretary Wiesman also wanted legislators to remind you of what you can do:
- Wash your hands often and avoid touching your face.
- Stay home when you’re sick. If you are sick and wondering what to do, call your healthcare provider before you go to a clinic or emergency room.
- Adhere to the Governor’s request to cancel large, in-person gatherings of over 250 people and local guidance for smaller gatherings as applicable, making use of technology solutions whenever possible.
If you need information, you can always call the DOH hotline at 1-800-525-0127 and press # at the prompt, and you can get daily updates at www.doh.wa.gov/coronavirus
Thanks for taking the COVID-19 outbreak seriously and being part of the solution.
Representative Drew D. Hansen