Gov. Inslee tests positive for COVID, officials urge masking
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has tested positive for COVID-19, his office said Wednesday, the same day state health officials urged people to wear face mask indoors as case counts steadily rise.
At a news conference the state’s public health leaders said they weren’t issuing mandates but “strongly recommending” masks be worn indoors in crowded or confined places.
“This is the time to remind ourselves that this pandemic is not over,” said Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah.
In a statement, Inslee’s office said the Democratic governor tested positive on a rapid antigen test and is experiencing mild symptoms, including a cough. Inslee is working from home and setting up antiviral treatments.
Inslee, who aggressively pushed for mitigation measures like indoor masking and restrictions on public gatherings early in the pandemic, is fully vaccinated, including two booster shots.
“I hope others consider getting their booster because it’s very effective in preventing serious illness,” Inslee said in a statement.
The Seattle Times reports as of early May, the state recorded a seven-day infection rate of about 245.3 cases per 100,000 people, or about 2,600 new infections per day. In mid-March, Washington’s infection rate was about 40.4 cases per 100,000.
Hospitalizations recently surpassed about six COVID hospital admissions per 100,000, or about 67 new hospitalizations per day — up from fewer than two hospitalizations per 100,000 in early April.
The state’s COVID death rate hasn’t seen significant changes in recent months, and has consistently been on the decline since late January, according to Department of Health data.
Also Wednesday Lt. Gov. Denny Heck announced he tested positive for COVID-19 and was experiencing “mild but unpleasant symptoms, similar to a bad head cold.”
Heck said he, too, was vaccinated and double-boosted.