Inslee’s COVID-19 mandates don’t always follow ‘science' or CDC guidance


Remember last February when Gov. Jay Inslee adjusted his COVID-19 mask mandate to fit with new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and cited continued decreases in Washington state’s hospitalization rate? 

Here’s his Tweet about the change: “In light of new [CDC] guidance and continued decreases in hospitalization rates, WA – along with OR and CA – will be adjusting the timing of our statewide mask requirement to end after March 11.” 

The tri-state, no-more-masks date was nearly the last in the nation. (Hawaii kept its requirement until March 26.) 

Washington’s end date was initially set for March 21, but it got a fast-forward with the updated guidance. The governor was following “the science” and medical experts, after all, and the CDC said most Americans lived in places where healthy people, including students in schools, could safely make the change. 

A picture accompanying his announcement outlined the new rules and said, “Private businesses can still require masks if they choose. Please respect the rules of the room.” 

Well, following “the science,” medical experts and CDC guidance is apparently so February. And reading the room has never been our governor’s thing. 

The CDC just updated COVID-19 guidance again, saying its policies and recommendations will no longer differentiate based on vaccination status, since most Americans have some form of protection from the virus (having had prior infection or vaccination) and are unlikely to become seriously ill. See current state Department of Health data and King County numbers that back this up in our state. 

King County gives informative COVID-19 outcomes by vaccination status that help people assess risk. They show a death rate of 0.09 per 100,000 residents per day over the past 30 days for both boosted and vaccinated people. For those not fully vaccinated, the death rate is 0.95. The hospitalization rate per 100,000 residents per day is 0.4 for people who are boosted, 0.5 for those who are vaccinated and 2.8 for those not fully vaccinated. 

Both vaccinated and unvaccinated people can contract and spread COVID-19. Both vaccinated and unvaccinated people are counted among the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in our state. Still, Inslee continues to differentiate between the vaccinated and unvaccinated, holding onto an outdated vaccine mandate as a condition for some state employment.

In October, numbers from the Office of Financial Management and news reports showed nearly 1,900 people were fired, resigned or retired due to the mandate for state employees. People’s careers were ruined, their individual and family finances suffered, and state service levels were harmed and remain worrisome. 

The Office of Financial Management says, "Based on available data, about 3.4% (2,135) of employees left their jobs or were terminated due to the mandate." The Department of Transportation was hit hard. And right now, smooth sailing is not happening on the state’s ferries. The vaccine mandate added to Washington State Ferries’ staffing challenges, with 121 workers fired and 11 workers who retired because of the mandate. 

The state’s vaccine mandate was made before there was enough knowledge about vaccines or COVID-19, and our state is paying the price for the misguided policy. The governor should end it immediately.

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