In a statement Thursday, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee said there is “pretty good evidence that the protests have not caused a spike” in COVID cases.
Instead, Inslee pointed to the danger of backyard barbecues and private birthday parties.
The COVID-19 update was held on Thursday as a live video event in which Inslee addressed many COVID-related issues for the state, including mail-in voting (which has been Washington State’s mandatory method of voting since 2011), unemployment insurance, contact tracing, and the upcoming school year.
Inslee celebrated that some cities in Washington are now seeing a 90-95% level of mask-wearing during business activities, such as grocery shopping. “This is a tremendous step forward,” he said.
Social activities, however, are not seeing such high mask-wearing rates, and Inslee encouraged Washingtonians to step up their mask-wearing game at “backyard barbecues, inside birthday parties” and “parties of young folks.”
The governor urged residents to wear masks just as faithfully in private, social settings as they are in public, business settings.
Inslee then opened the floor for questions.
Referring to Inslee’s admonitions to avoid large gatherings and practice social distancing, one man by the name of Jim asked, “Doesn’t it also make sense to ask protestors to refrain from outdoor, large gatherings of protests?”
After encouraging everyone in all circumstances to social distance and wear masks, Inslee said, “Fortunately, we’ve got pretty good evidence that the protests have not caused a spike.”
According to Inslee, of 5,000 people who were tested after reporting that they attended a protest, “the positivity was like one-tenth of one-percent – extremely low.”
The reason rates are so low? Inslee relied on his own observations to posit a reason: “…from my observations, most folks are wearing a mask while they’re (protesting).”
Seattle has been experiencing large protests and violent riots since the George Floyd protests began in late May. These events have attracted hundreds and thousands of people gathering together in parks and streets, despite state and local governments encouraging people to stay home to prevent COVID infection rates from climbing.
At odds with his insistence that weeks of protests have had no impact on the spread of COVID, Inslee stated in the same video event that “physical distancing works. We know that staying home still works” and he encouraged Washingtonians to continue to work together to flatten the curve.
Most Washington State churches are still under heavy restrictions when it comes to indoor and outdoor gatherings, and the state has currently been placed on a reopening freeze.
You can watch the full video of Jay Inslee’s event here.