Apr 13, 2020
Gov. Jay Inslee Washington Coronavirus Briefing Transcript April 13
Washington Governor Jay Inslee held a coronavirus news conference on April 13. He talked about a “shared vision” with Oregon, California for reopening economies.
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Ready when you are.
Jay Inslee: (00:06)
Thanks, Tara. Good afternoon. We have a really exciting announcement today of a new Washington State Supreme Court justice. Before I make that announcement, I want to thank retiring Justice Charles Wiggins for his amazing service. I know this justice a bit personally. I can tell you that it’s not just his bow tie we’re going to miss. We’re going to miss his gentility and his insights and his really connection to the community, and I wish him well. Thank you, Justice Wiggins.
Jay Inslee: (00:42)
To fill his vacancy on the State Supreme Court, I’m pleased to announce the appointment of Judge G. Helen Whitener of the Pierce County Superior Court. Her name and her talents are not new to me. I appointed soon to be Justice Whitener to the Pierce County Superior Court in 2015, and then and now she has distinguished herself in a relatively rapid period of time as a true outstanding talent in our judicial sphere. Originally from Trinidad, Judge Whitener moved to the United States as a teenager, went to Baruch College in New York and obtained her law degree from Seattle University. As an attorney and a judge, her work has inspired so many. When I ask her her number one achievement of something to be proud about, she told me something that the community also recognizes, and that is her ability to inspire young people in their individual pursuits in so many ways. This is a community-minded judge and will be a community-minded justice.
Jay Inslee: (01:50)
When some of her colleagues heard about her appointment, they literally … shout might be too strong a word, but showed their very loud approval for this appointment. The president of the state Bar Association described the judge as tenacious, fearless, and a compassionate advocate for human rights. The president of the Tacoma Pierce County Bar said that, “Our loss will be the state’s gain.” As a former practicing attorney myself, I always look to those lawyers who labor in the vineyards of justice and what they think. The president of the Association for Justice, Spokane attorney John Alison described her as outstanding, a dynamic person with a tremendous work ethic and great insights to bring to the bench. She is the first immigrant-born judge on the Pierce County superior court. I believe she is the first woman who is Black in our community, and I am so excited to see her enter this realm.
Jay Inslee: (02:56)
I have to tell you, she does have a certain characteristics that are troublesome on occasion, and I just want to share that with you. I spoke to her spouse, former Sergeant Major Lynn Rainey of the United States Army, who revealed to me that this justice has a terrible habit of getting up at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning and doing a lot of work. That’s something that former Sergeant Major Lynn is just going to have to learn to live with I’m afraid, because she’s got a lot of work ahead of her. I do mention this though, because it is her work ethic among many of her characteristics that are important, so that we can receive timely decisions by the State Supreme Court. That takes work, and I think we have a real work horse here, who I am so proud to a point to this position. Justice Whitener, I’d like to shake your hand, but right now I want to be socially and legally connected with you, and I look forward to that.
G. Helen Whitener: (04:05)
Good afternoon. First, I would like to thank Governor Inslee for giving me this wonderful opportunity to serve on our state’s highest court. Thank you. I stand before you the product of hard work and mentorship. As a result, there are too many people to thank in the time that I have. However, I must thank my spouse and you’ve heard retired Command Sergeant Major and attorney Lynn Rainey for her unconditional love and continued support. I also thank Justice Charles Wiggins for his many years of exemplary service to the legal profession and the judiciary. It is truly an honor to be appointed to the seat that he held.
G. Helen Whitener: (04:57)
I would be remiss if I did not speak to students, as I teach and mentor many of them from elementary school all the way up to new judicial officers at judicial college. I also teach a street law civics class at Lincoln High School in Tacoma. Our class schedule this semester was interrupted due to the coronavirus outbreak. I know the practice of social distancing can make us feel isolated and disconnected from each other, but it is a necessity so that all Washingtonians can be safe. I want you, the students, to know just as others believed in me, I believe in you, so continue to study and continue to be safe. I do miss my weekly class sessions with you, however.
G. Helen Whitener: (05:53)
To the people of the state of Washington, we are showing the world that Washingtonians are United people. We may have differences, but we are not truly different. Our similarities outweigh our differences. We are one, and this pandemic will not defeat us. Finally, I look forward to serving with the esteemed Washington Supreme Court justices under the leadership of Chief Justice Debra Stevens. Even though for the immediate future I’ll be joining them in the virtual work environment, I’ll be joining you soon. Thank you, Governor Inslee, again for this historic appointment and thank you for everyone who has made it possible.
Jay Inslee: (06:43)
Judge Whitener, would you like to stand at the podium? I’m happy for the justice or myself to take questions.
Speaker 1: (06:54)
Okay. First question. We’re going to go to Alexis Krell with the News Tribune.
G. Helen Whitener: (06:54)
Alexis Krell: (06:55)
Your honor, I’d like to know the challenges you see the justice system facing during the pandemic and what challenges you think courts are going to be facing when they resume normal operations?
G. Helen Whitener: (07:08)
Well, one of the challenges we’re presently facing is a challenge that has always been there, and that is lack of funding. However, I was appointed to the Office of Civil Legal Aid, and I do know that a lot of work has been done by that organization to make sure that individuals who do not have funding for an attorney, who do not have funding in regards to access to the courts have a place where they can get information to hold them over this time period. In regards to what sort of issues we will be looking at going forward, I think there are a lot of benefits we will come out of this pandemic width, and that is utilizing technology more efficiently to serve the community that we serve.
Speaker 1: (07:59)
The next question comes from Austin Jenkins with Northwest News Network.
Austin Jenkins: (08:04)
Hi, Judge Whitener and congratulations. Nice to see you again virtually.
G. Helen Whitener: (08:06)
Austin Jenkins: (08:09)
I know that you have had a tremendous focus throughout your career on equity and diversity and inclusiveness, and you’ve talked about the importance of trust in the court systems and the fact that they need to reflect the communities they serve. How do you see your role as as a Supreme Court justice in advancing that work that you have done in the superior court in another role?
G. Helen Whitener: (08:30)
Well, I think my background is so diverse and so varied that I represent just about every type of individual that could possibly come before the court. Prior to being appointed to the Pierce County Superior Court, I was a Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals judge, and my run, meaning where I would go to have hearings, was in Eastern Washington. So you would have this island girl heading out to Wenatchee, Moses Lake, Winthrop, Okanogan County, Spokane, Yakima, and I was made to feel welcome and at home, because there really wasn’t any difference with how they treated me or what they wanted from me then I got from Western Washington so to say. So as far as equity and inclusion, it does not matter where you are or who you’re dealing with. What we are to be concerned about is the impact our actions have on others, and that has always been my focus, and I hope I can continue doing that as well.
Speaker 1: (09:38)
Final question for you, Justice. It comes from Essex Carter from KIRO-7.
Essex Carter: (09:45)
G. Helen Whitener: (09:49)
We lost you.
Essex Carter: (09:50)
[inaudible 00:09:50] in this time of trying to reopen and make sure that it is safe for everyone …
G. Helen Whitener: (10:05)
Unfortunately, I’m not getting your question. You can try again.
Essex Carter: (10:16)
Hi there. Are you hearing me now?
G. Helen Whitener: (10:17)
Essex Carter: (10:20)
Yes. I would like to ask as our governments move toward reopening society in the wake of this COVID-19, I am wondering what you think of the kind of tracking and tracing and testing that may need to be done so that we safely reopen. It seems like it could be unprecedented and have implications for medical privacy. How do you approach what we may need to do in order to reopen safely?
G. Helen Whitener: (10:52)
Well, first of all, you have to remember I am in the legal fare, not the medical fare. In addition to which, it sounds like the way you formulated your question, it is likely to be something that is going to come before the court that I will be swearing into, so at this time, I cannot answer that question in regards to what issues may come before the court on that. What I do know is when the pandemic is over, our courts have now been looking at technology access to our courts, and access to the justice system is paramount and at the forefront of our mind. We will do whatever it takes to make sure that our courts remain a place where people can come and have their cases heard impartially, and create a safe environment for them as well.
All right. I think we’ll transition down to the governor for other media questions.
G. Helen Whitener: (11:50)
Justice, if you want to move off.
Speaker 1: (11:52)
The next question comes from [inaudible 00:12:01].
Speaker 2: (12:00)
Governor, [inaudible 00:12:08] under the original pact announced today with [inaudible 00:12:13] and California. Also, what do you make of the presidents tweets today, asserting ultimately it wasn’t up to the governor when to open up the state, but that would come from the federal government. Are there any thoughts when it comes to lifting ours?
Jay Inslee: (12:29)
Well, of course we will talk to the administration as we do routinely. I talk to the vice-president fairly regularly. He called me day before yesterday. I was on a call with other governors with him today. We have a lot of communications with the White House. That’s a very healthy thing. I want to thank the vice-president for being available to us. But as far as who has the legal authority to make decisions about the Stay Home, Stay Healthy Initiative, which I issued as governor of the State of Washington, there really is no question about that. That is in the singular purview of the State of Washington and the governor of the State of Washington. There is no legal authority that would give any president, of any party, the ability to countermand a health-based decision that is issued pursuant to Washington State law.
Jay Inslee: (13:21)
Our Stay Home, Stay Healthy Initiative has been successful in a couple of ways. One, people are abiding by it, that’s why we’re having considerable success. Number two, it is issued pursuant to Washington State law and no president can countermand that. That decision will remain with me, as governor, and we see no authority from any source that would give the president the ability to countermand that decision.
Jay Inslee: (13:51)
Now, the president could make additional decisions of his own, but he cannot countermand the decision that we have under Washington State law. Your first question, you broke up a little, Rachel. Could you try that one again?
Sure. Can you hear me now, Governor?
Jay Inslee: (14:11)
When might we see specific details of timelines of the regional pact that was announced today in California? I think I heard that [inaudible 00:14:17] Would we expect that timeframe to start?
Jay Inslee: (14:27)
We don’t have any specific date in mind at this moment. And I’m glad to be able to have basically a statement of broad principles that will abide across the West Coast. And those basic principles are, we know we have to have measures of testing and contact tracing in the ability to come out of this in a rational, thoughtful, scientifically-based way. And I think that those principals were invited by with this agreement that you saw today. But we don’t have any specific timelines off you in this regard. Obviously, our order is good at the moment, through May 4th, and states a will retain the ability to pick their particular dates. But I am pleased that we are moving as a region to basic principles so that we can be as coordinated as possible and we’re happy to have this position.
Speaker 2: (15:20)
Next question comes from Joe at the Seattle Times.
Governor, two-part question here, about your coordination. First, what are the clear indicators for communities to restart public life in business that you’re looking at? And second, how much of your effort has been informed by the previous announcement that New York and New Jersey and some East Coast States would do this?
Jay Inslee: (15:43)
We were not related to what the East Coast was doing. We’ve been working on these things in the West Coast on our own initiative and so we are happy to basically coincidentally announced them on the same day. So it’s something we’ve been working on for some time and we’ll continue to work with other West Coast states. The first part of your question, of course, alluded me. What was your first question?
In terms of, I believe your statement said there would be clear indicators for [crosstalk 00:16:12].
Jay Inslee: (16:11)
Yes. Thank you. So there are two things that we need to see, going forward. Number one, the rate of infection has to be low enough that we know that it’s not going to simply rebound if we continue with the second step, which I’ll describe. So the rate of infection, the rate of fatalities, the infection rate per capita, the hospitalization with COVID-like symptoms per capita, the percentage of positive tests, all of those things have to be low enough to give us confidence that we can have a second-part strategy to keep that rebound from happening. That’s number one.
Jay Inslee: (16:52)
The second step is we have to have confidence that our testing and contact tracing protocols are scientifically based enough and robust enough and resourced well enough, that we will be able to keep a lid on when we do have a sporadic infection take place. And we are working on that right now. So we are working on a plan to increase our testing capacity literally, on a daily basis and we have plans to do that all the way through the supply chain, from the test swabs to the vials, to the transport medium, to the reagents, to the analyzing machines. And we are currently looking at new ways to dramatically boost the analytical capability as well.
Jay Inslee: (17:41)
We are making progress on some of the test kits. We just recently got in thousands of the swabs that are now literally, I think, today or tomorrow being shipped to various longterm care facilities that so need them. But we also need a contact tracing program so that if we get a sporadic positive hit in a certain location, we can surround that person with anyone they’ve had a contact with, and get them into isolation as quickly as humanly possible. So we are building up our number of people, you might call it the minute men and women that we need, to be able to get this contact tracing work done. And we’re developing that plan to get that done right now.
Speaker 2: (18:24)
Next question comes from Drew [inaudible 00:18:28].
Good afternoon, Governor. On the issue of the inmates being released, we heard up to 950 may be getting out soon because of this. Advocates and family members say that’s not nearly enough to create social distancing we need inside facilities. Are there other measures being taken to help somehow spread these folks out and if you see more infections you expect to see or releases perhaps at other institutions?
Jay Inslee: (18:54)
Well, first off, the fact that family members are concerned about their loved ones who are incarcerated, we understand that and that’s why we’re taking many steps, not just an early release of some of these nonviolent offenders. I’ll just go through some of the list of some of the things that are being done. I issued an emergency proclamation which waived certain requirements to be incarcerated, who’d violated terms of their parole so we could keep the numbers down in our facilities. We have increased screening testing and disease control guidelines that are consistent with the CDC requirements. We early eliminated visitation at the Department of Corrections in order to prevent the infections going into the facilities. Now, this is anxiety- producing for the families. I can understand that because they can’t see physically, their family members, but it is a necessary step to reduce the rates of infection.
Jay Inslee: (19:58)
We have begun screening of all new inmates using screening questions and temperature checks. The DOC has reduced the intra-system transfer from facility to facility and reduced it fairly significantly. They’ve implemented guidelines for personal protection equipment for staff, and they have bolstered cleaning for the DOC facilities. They’ve issued new hygiene supplies to the incarcerated individuals and teaching them the social distancing technique that frankly, all of us need to be involved in. And they are also isolating both with singular isolation, of people who have tested positive, but also embraced what’s called cohort isolation of people in the pod that has been affected, so that only about three people might be in a unit, so they’re not exposed to hundreds of people in dormitory-like setting.
Jay Inslee: (20:56)
The points I just referenced these, is that there’s a lot of work going on besides the early release protocols and that’s the right thing to do and we’re doing it. Besides the court ordering this to be done, it’s something we’ve been working on now for weeks and months, to try to reduce the risk to people in these prisons. We do have to recognize this though, everyone in the state of Washington is at some risk for this today and no one is going to have it totally eliminated, and all of us should pitch in to try to reduce it. That’s what we’re doing for our incarcerated individuals.
Speaker 2: (21:35)
Next question comes from Tim with [inaudible 00:21:41].
Governor, on the multi-state package you have, from a regional standpoint, will you be coordinating with Governor Little of Idaho, the other state on the other border, which has a significant amount of contact across that border on the East side? If not, how will you prevent COVID-19 from cropping up in Eastern Washington?
Jay Inslee: (22:06)
Well, we haven’t had a chance talk to the governor of Idaho yet. I understand that he’s having some controversy with his plans in Idaho, so he may have that issue he’s got to work through, so that we could talk to him. I see no reason not to do that. This is just a matter of these three West Coast governors have worked together on so many things, it’s just a matter of we’re used to doing that. But when he gets Idaho and a little more consensus position, be happy to talk to him.
Speaker 2: (22:33)
We’re going to try Essex with [Kyra 00:22:34] again. I don’t know where the other portion of [inaudible 00:22:38].
Yes, thank you, Governor. Does this agreement with the other states mean that the there will now be uniform definitions of what is an essential business because now the different states have different definitions of which businesses are essential?
Jay Inslee: (22:54)
Not necessarily. I think that this pact is more forward looking than backward looking. This pact is about what do we do after we reduce some of our social distancing stay home initiatives. It’s more of the issue of how are we going to have as consistent as we can, testing and contact tracing initiatives? It’s more of a forward-looking proposal and I’m looking forward to that.
Jay Inslee: (23:19)
Now, I do want to reiterate this and it’s important for people to realize this. In order for any of these three states to be successful, we simply have to have increased products available with which to do this testing. This is absolutely critical. We are all, three governors, working as hard as we can to get testing swabs, to get viral transport medium, to get reagents for the analysis. And we literally are calling manufacturers around the world to try to obtain these products. And we’ve had some success. In the last few days, we’ve had some real hits on getting thousands of swabs that we need. But we need to realize that-
Jay Inslee: (24:03)
…the demand for testing is going to go up by several fold after we get through our social distancing because we have to be able to test people and people around them who have sporadic outbreaks, if that happens. We need to test people in the food services industry for instance, and that need is going to increase, not decrease. And that’s why our nation needs a very strong mobilization plan to mobilize the industrial base in the United States to make all of these products. Now, there is a start and I spoke to Admiral Polowczyk about this this weekend and that is starting and we are glad to see that, but it needs to accelerate to the extent humanly possible so that everyone can get access to these resources.
Speaker 4: (24:56)
Next question comes from Jerry with AR Herald.
Governor, I want to go back to the plan you filed in court today. Three related questions to it. One and first, when do you foresee releases beginning? I’ve been told there’s none today, so I’m wondering why are there none today under this plan? And will the department of corrections contact the victims and witnesses who are enrolled in the note issuing program before any of the individuals are released early? If they’ve signed up?
Jay Inslee: (25:32)
Well, it’s going to be probably the first group in a matter of a few days. You have to identify the people, you have to give them the rudimentary ways to leave the facility. We’d like to do whatever we can to help them be in a healthy environment when they leave. There are a group of the people who will be released on an early release program that will still be monitored probably with something like an ankle bracelet and finding out where they’re going to go take some time, but we think the first group would be in a matter of days. That’s where we’re aiming for. In order to accomplish that, there simply is not time to do a victim notification and negotiation to comply with the Supreme Court order. These are emergency decisions. They are pursuant to the order of the state Supreme Court and we are moving as quickly as possible to be in compliance with that and what is good public policy.
Speaker 4: (26:38)
Time for a few more questions. Okay. Next we have Anna Scott with Power Radio.
Anna Scott: (26:39)
Governor, you mentioned the need for contact for example, when we get to the part of where we can reopen. I’m curious, do you support the research going on right now with Trevor Bedford and Xpress to use an app to track your contact with COVID 19?
Jay Inslee: (26:54)
Well, if you’re referring to the situation where your cell could advise you if you’ve been close to somebody else’s cell phone who is positive, is that what you’re referring to or some other apparatus?
Anna Scott: (27:11)
So that’s what I’m referring to.
Jay Inslee: (27:11)
Yeah. Well, first off, I haven’t seen the details of this proposal. It seems to me it may be possible to do that without violating people’s privacy if there are assurances that if I’m A and I’m advised that I’ve been close to somebody, B who had the virus, as long as we make sure I’m not told who B was, just simply that I’ve been close to someone, that probably would not violate anybody’s privacy. If that is capable of happening, to me, it might make sense and it’s something that we should look at. And I think the attitude do this is we ought to look at creative solutions to this problem and really dive down to the details. And the reason I say that is what I’ve found is technology can be anxiety producing and if you look at it really closely, maybe some of that anxiety wasn’t really necessary. Just got to look at really closely. I would say like to look at what this might do. Seems to me there might be a way to do this without violating anyone’s privacy and let’s take a look at it.
Speaker 4: (28:22)
Next question comes from Tom with Northwest [inaudible 00:28:25].
Governor, can you just follow up one more kind of Western states pact. I wanted to make sure I understood the [inaudible 00:28:34] in terms of whether there’s a possibility that Washington state’s reopening might be delayed by having to wait for Oregon or California to get all their ducks in a row. And particularly the case of California has 48 million people.
Jay Inslee: (28:49)
No, I don’t think there’s a reason to think that’s a risk. This is a general pact about the principles that apply, but they may apply at a different date depending where every state is in their curve, in their data, in their infection rate, in the ability to have contact tracing. If one state can get contact tracing and adequate testing earlier than another, there wouldn’t be any reason to delay that state. But it is a pact to have those principles being applied depending on the circumstances of each state. I can only think this is going to help accelerate our effort in part because we can share resources and we can share procurement strategies and we can share advice frankly, how to implement these things. So if anything is going to hasten it.
Speaker 4: (29:40)
Two more questions. Next one comes from Keith with [inaudible 00:29:43].
Governor, you were talking about … Still your date as far as the end of stay home, stay healthy. Is there consideration you may start to ease some of the restrictions like a home construction, prior to that date or are you going to have to extend it? Your graphs talking about going to the end of May for those unintended deaths if people go back to close contact?
Jay Inslee: (30:07)
Well, we make decisions based on the data on a daily basis. At the moment, this order is good through May 4th and that’s the decision we have made. That could change. It could be longer, I suppose possibly it could be shorter, but I have no intention doing that right now. It seems like the data we have would suggest what we’ve done are made good decisions so far and they may have to go longer. And it depends on what the data will show as we get closer to May 4th. When we make that decision, it could possibly be that some industries open faster than others. That’s a possibility. It’s a possibility that we would all be in the same date at a later date. That is a possibility. But it probably doesn’t do us a lot of good just ruminating on possibilities. We’ve got to focus on what we need to today, which is stay home and stay healthy.
Jay Inslee: (31:04)
Again, I want to thank Washingtonians with huge numbers of people who are fulfilling that request and that’s why we’re having some success. But I want to reiterate, there is no reason to believe we’re done with this. And if people decide to just go back and party like it was 2015, we’re going to have a relapse to this thing and maybe be longer getting back to our industrial base. We’ve got to keep sticking to this business.
Speaker 5: (31:34)
All right, last question and I think we’re going to have David Postman answer some additional questions about the California Oregon work that we’re doing, but last question for the governor.
Speaker 4: (31:43)
Final question, we go to Camila with KTTV.
Hi, Governor. You answered many of the questions regarding the Western states pact. Can you address the order you issued today to protect high risk workers and what that means?
Jay Inslee: (32:00)
Thank you for that question. This is an important issue. You know, we know that this virus is not an equal opportunity threat. On a percentage basis, essentially anyone could potentially be a victim. And so all of us have a personal interest in staying home and staying healthy. But the big majority of its victims are older folks, my age for instance, and those with underlying health conditions. We have issued an order basically to add a extra layer of protection for folks in those conditions to make sure that if you can’t be accommodated at the job site to make sure you’re safe, that you’d have the ability not to be on the job and come back and not lose your job, and use your benefits while you’re not on the job.
Jay Inslee: (32:51)
The first situation was to give people an opportunity to work with their employee to get in a better position so they’re not so exposed. If that is impossible and if they are not able to work, this will guarantee folks over the age of 65 and those who have compromised health systems, the ability to get your job back when we get back to normal conditions. And this is important because frankly, if we can wrap our arms, put a bubble around people of this ilk, of this age and condition, we’re going to reduce fatality rates well more than half. This is a group we got particularly embrace right now and we did so by this order to protect their work rights. With that, I want to thank everyone and wash your hands, please. Thank you.
Speaker 5: (33:40)
Now, it’s David Postman. Then we’ll have David talk about the work with California and Oregon.
Jay Inslee: (33:53)
Speaker 4: (33:54)
[inaudible 00:33:54] please let me know in the chat or email me at [inaudible 00:33:58].
David Postman: (33:58)
I’ll just say quick, so the three States have been working closely together throughout this. As the Gov said, we work closely on a lot of things. The three chiefs of staff talk frequently in various pairs and all three of us. The discussion specifically about a West Coast Alliance on reopening. We started talking about that seriously last week. We went back and forth over the weekend. I had long calls Friday, Saturday, Sunday and today on this subject and the decision was made this morning to just go ahead and get the high level statement out right now. Obviously, the statement itself is the beginning of the work and we’re committed to try and to find ways to collaborate.
David Postman: (34:55)
Let me also just say, to the question, I think that was from, I forget who about, could it possibly … Oh Tom, could it possibly delay the opening here? Absolutely not. There’s nothing in this agreement that binds any state to do anything with any other state. It’s not mandated actions or timelines by any state. It’s a way for us to share expertise, information, alert people to pitfalls and we think there’s just a value in having a consistent approach to the economy up and down the West coast.
Speaker 4: (35:31)
All right. First question will come from Rachel.
[inaudible 00:35:37], I’m looking at a [inaudible 00:35:39] press conference today, Governor Newsom said he’s going to announce a detailed plan tomorrow for lifting restrictions and he said that it would be an incremental release of stay at home orders, a decision made in permeation with the Governors in Washington and Oregon. I guess that’s why I was asking…
David Postman: (35:59)
Yeah. That’s not…
When some more detailed plans that are expected here.
David Postman: (36:03)
David Postman: (36:03)
… not exactly right. I didn’t have a chance to hear his press conference. I don’t expect any detailed plan to emerge tomorrow or in the next couple of days that would tell anybody, say, what was opening and when it was opening. I think what you will start to see from the three states, in various tranches, what are these specific principles and measurements that we’re all going to look at? I would be very surprised if what you see tomorrow out of California says, “On such and such date, this would happen.” In fact, it’s just the opposite of what we’ve been talking about.
David Postman: (36:44)
So what we want to look at, one of the examples, obviously you’ve all heard a lot about testing, but what does that mean? How much testing do you really need? What is adequate testing for when you start to lift up on the non-pharmaceutical interventions? We need to amend those interventions as we start to pull out of this.
David Postman: (37:06)
Each state’s going to look at, what does a decline mean? How long do you need to wait? Do you need to see 14 days of consistent drop in the transmission rate of the disease, or is it hospitalization rate? What is happening with hospital capacity? And so what we’re trying to do is to get down on a piece of paper so we can all look at it, what are those key things that we need to look for?
David Postman: (37:32)
So the public, and public officials in local governments and the legislature and everywhere else, has eyes on what we’re doing and what we’re talking about, and hopefully that gets people to understand what it is, this path, which, no one is going to be able to predict a date. As the governor’s said, his order right now is scheduled to expire May 4th. As we’ve discussed before, I don’t expect on May 4th for it to all go away instantly, and you have to be very careful about coming out. That’s why we’re binding together as states, and you saw the same on the East Coast today. We really need the compounded help there, everything from perhaps purchasing power to, as I said, just a more consistent approach to people who do business up and down the coast.
Speaker 7: (38:27)
Next question is from Tim Jones with The Seattle Times.
Tim Jones: (38:31)
So just in terms of what you said right there, in terms of purchasing power, the states, it sounds like they will be coordinating on trying to find things, like coronavirus [crosstalk 00:38:39] supplies?
David Postman: (38:39)
We already are. We haven’t done any group purchases that I’m aware of, but California and Washington started talking about that a couple weeks ago now. And one of the things that came out of that was an effort to try to share with each other both promising leads and troublesome leads. There’s a lot of less than perfect deals out there or dealers, and so if one state sees something that looks fishy, we try to let the other state know.
David Postman: (39:13)
So we’ve talked about that with both states, frankly. The California team and our team, our testing task forces, testing teams, met, I forget, the other day and talked about it. So some of that’s already happening. Right now, it’s much more in the realm of conversations about what is really needed, what are some of the options?
David Postman: (39:37)
The principals talk a lot anyhow. So when I first talked with the chief of staff, our adjutant general had just spoken to their adjutant general earlier that day, our health director speaks. So it’s nothing brand new in that sense, but we’re trying to formalize this a little more up and down the chain of command. You’ll see appointments made to this multi-state pact that we’ll just formalize that a little bit from each of the governor’s offices and key cabinet positions.
Speaker 7: (40:10)
Next, we’re going to Jim Drew from News Tribune.
Jim Drew: (40:16)
So David, am I understanding there’s a second aspect to the Defense Production Act, and the added vote to, we still could do that, that it sets actually a fair market value for PPE, which would help in terms of costs and this competition among the states. I wanted to see if Vice President Pence or anyone else in the federal government has discussed that issue or shared why the president has it in votes, the Defense Production Act, some of the ventilators.
David Postman: (40:49)
Yeah. It has not come up in any of the conversations with the vice president that I’ve been able to be a part of, and I’ve not heard that. I’ve heard of the issue you raised, but I’ve not heard that it’s been discussed with the federal government, certainly not in terms of the federal government telling us why it’s not happened. As you know, the governor has made many requests for a full-throated attempted at the act, but I’ve not heard specifics on it, Jim.
Speaker 7: (41:17)
Next, we’ll go to Jim with the Spokesman-Review.
Yeah David, the West Coast is ahead of many other states in terms of its response and its curves are better right now. So what happens if the three West Coast states decided to open up while other parts of the country are still seeing their numbers going up, their pandemic not under control. Do you restrict movement from those states or will you keep them locked down until the rest of the country seems to be in better shape?
David Postman: (41:51)
Well, there’s been no discussion obviously of closing borders. And when those rumors pop up, we’ve always been quick to say that’s … I’m not even sure we have ever discussed it. I certainly have never been a part of any conversation in Washington state with the three states or with the federal government about anything related to border closing.
David Postman: (42:13)
I think we do look at what goes on elsewhere. We’ve learned how fast this virus can travel; it doesn’t respect borders. And so we look at the big picture certainly, but we also know that we got hit harder. We got hit first here, we’ve had some real hotspots and we can get those under control. So I think we are in charge of our own destiny to a large part, but I think any epidemiologist is still looking at the next state over or two states over or who’s coming in by plane or car. You can’t isolate yourself completely from those trends.
Speaker 7: (42:59)
Two more. Next, we have Jerry with Everett Herald.
Yeah David, I think you might’ve answered the question from Joe, but let me just make sure. I just wanted to understand, as of this moment, there’s been no joint purchases either between two or three states, but you might actually see a joint purchase?
David Postman: (43:14)
Yeah, I haven’t heard of any joint purchases. There’s so many deals being made all the time that I can’t be certain that there’s been none. There are certainly some that I know were in the docket; I didn’t think they came through, that would have had supplies split between a couple of different purchasers, but it was one of the early things that we have talked about in a multi-state effort was, could you do a purchasing thing?
David Postman: (43:44)
As the governor said, we’ve made some really good progress lately on PPEs and it’s not as dire as it was. We still have a big need and as we get to lifting interventions and amending the restrictions, we’re going to need a lot continued and maybe even more in some ways. So I think we’ll continue to be open to anything that might increase our purchasing power.
Speaker 7: (44:11)
Final question comes from Tom with Public Radio.
I just want to clarify maybe what this week’s focus on the actions might be on the West Coast. Is there something teed up as the next area of priority?
David Postman: (44:27)
Oh yeah, I don’t know. I’m going to reconvene with the chiefs of staff Wednesday. I think the first thing we’re going to do is talk about who we put on a group that’s going to meet on a regular basis. And we’ve already done a lot of work, like I said, over the last, boy, four days or so. This took most of my time in terms of a much deeper dive on those questions of testing, PPE, what does health data look like that we need to see, all those sorts of things. So I think one of the things we’ll try to do fairly quickly is start putting that down on a piece of paper too.
David Postman: (45:10)
And I think regardless of that work, throughout this, you’re going to see three different set of specifics. And none of us think that we all will follow in lockstep on, certainly not on timing. As the gov’s said, we’re not going to go backwards and change what closures have happened here or there. For example, in California, the state didn’t close residential construction, but the big, key Bay Area counties did, so already you have these divisions.
David Postman: (45:42)
And so what we’re looking for are really what I would think of as the guiding principles to have a smart path back to the new normal. And I think we’ll start trying to, like I said, put that down on a piece of paper this week and get our health policy advisors together as well, the health directors and just keep the conversation going. Okay?
Speaker 7: (46:05)
All right. Thank you.
David Postman: (46:06)
Great. Thank you, all.