As Washington state sees a dramatic increase in COVID cases due to the Omicron variant, Governor Jay Inslee this week announced measures to contain the spread. Inslee has not announced any cancellations, restrictions or closings.
“We are seeing more cases of COVID now than at any time during the entire pandemic and our hospitalizations are nearing Delta’s peak. Omicron is more contagious and more people are likely to get sick, ”Inslee said. “We are providing additional tools and resources to help protect Washingtonians. “
The governor’s announcement had three main components:
The administration has worked tirelessly to acquire home tests to help individuals gain better access. The Department of Health has ordered an additional 5.5 million home tests.
The state has received 800,000 home tests, with the rest coming within a week or two.
To help with distribution, the state has partnered with CareEvolution and Amazon to expand our testing infrastructure and create a web portal so families can order tests directly from their homes at no cost. More than 3.5 million of state-ordered tests are dedicated to this effort. The portal is expected to open in mid-January.
“Amazon is excited to bring the necessary COVID testing to individuals and families in Washington State through this partnership with Governor Inslee’s office to leverage our network of warehousing, logistics, package tracking and of last mile delivery, ”said Gopal Pillai, vice president of Amazon Distribution & Execution Services.
To ensure equitable access, the state also plans to make these tests available through other means. This will include sending one million to schools to help schools meet increased testing needs and one million to local health organizations to reach priority populations in their communities, such as people in facilities. long-term care, homeless shelters or through key community organizations that serve those at increased risk of COVID-19 or lack of access to the online portal.
As Governor and Trudi Inslee mentioned in their holiday post a few weeks ago, the Washington State Department of Health is working to expand the availability and access to booster vaccines and create more high-speed locations. We have increased the capacity of the Auburn FEMA Mobile Vaccination Clinic in King County to accommodate thousands of additional appointments per day. This site has tripled its production – it had the capacity to do 500 shots per day, now it has a capacity of 1,500. In addition, we will be adding another high-speed site in Northwest Washington this week. January 18. More details on this can be expected from DOH shortly.
More face masks are one of the best and fastest tools to help us tackle the spread in the very short term. For this reason, the state intends to release approximately 10 million masks of different varieties from our public supply for distribution to local communities, including K-12 schools, in the coming weeks. Local and state emergency management distribution channels will be used, along with local health services and our K-12 infrastructure to make them available quickly to those who wish to use them.
The governor also spoke of his strong desire to keep students in classroom learning.
“Students have already lost too much during this pandemic. In the coming months, some classes may have to close. There are some frustrations that we will have to overcome, and I think we will do that successfully, ”Inslee said. “This is why we have a strong focus on ensuring that tests, masks and vaccines are readily available to our school staff and students. I would also like to reiterate my gratitude for the way educators have handled and are still dealing with the challenges created by the pandemic. You have all made it possible for the students to return safely and successfully and we want them to stay there.