Coronavirus cases surge; Inslee extends social distancing measures

As July approached, many across the country were hopeful for a continued return to normalcy. King County had moved into Phase 2 of Inslee’s reopening plan, allowing more gatherings and recreational activities to resume and more businesses to reopen. Inslee’s phased Safe Start plan itself was set to expire on the 1st, and many were hopeful that after four long months, this had all finally blown over.

However, this was simply not to be. Across the country, coronavirus cases have surged. The first warnings came from Florida and Arkansas, who, having reopened swiftly, saw a rapid increase in cases. Some, at this point, still looked to those states and saw outliers, perhaps the product of carelessness. Over the past week, however, it has become abundantly clear that is not the case, and that this resurgence is a national trend.

According to the New York Times, in the first ten days of July, the U.S. has set seven records for new cases, now topping more than 65,000 on Friday. The story here in Washington is no different. In the past few days, we have seen records for daily new cases topping even those at the beginning of the pandemic.

The above graphic shows cases per 100,000 residents for six of the counties in Washington State. Courtesy of the Office of the Governor.

This rise in cases isn’t just due to increased testing, as some have claimed. In Washington as well as across the country, the increase in testing is significantly smaller than the increase in positive cases. 

As a result, Governor Inslee has taken several measures in an attempt to combat the resurgence of coronavirus. An order requiring masks to be worn in public went into effect June 26th. On July 1st, Inslee extended his Safe Start plan until at least July 9th, with a promise of further guidelines to follow. The next day, he took one step further, temporarily preventing counties from moving to a later phase and requiring businesses statewide to refuse service to customers not wearing a mask. Additional guidelines promised at the beginning of this month have been released, which further extend the ‘Safe Start’ reopening plan through August 6th, prohibit live music and bar-style seating in restaurant, and reiterate that masks must be worn in public.

King County is currently in Phase 2 of the reopening plan, the details of which you can read about in our summary here, or in graphical form here.