Gov. Inslee warns of the consequences of rising COVID-19 numbers

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Another 289 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Spokane, according to new numbers from the Health District. Governor Jay Inslee warned that if those numbers don’t drop, more restrictions could be on the way.

While the numbers in Washington and across the country are alarming, there is a silver lining — a vaccine may soon be ready to deploy, beginning in September.

When it is approved and distributed there will only be a limited number of doses in the initial roll out. However, before a vaccine is even distributed, Inslee was adamant about getting down the number of coronavirus cases in the state. He said in a press conference with health care workers Tuesday that the statewide transmission is currently sitting at 300 people per 100,000 population, with more than 6,000 new cases in the last three days.

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“We know if we keep doing this, we’re going to knock this pandemic down,” said Inslee.

One of the biggest concerns among medical professionals is hospital capacity and the effects an increase in COVID patients could have on the public.

“I took care of a man last month who didn’t get his defibrillator because it was pushed back because of the COVID outbreak and not having space to care for him,” explained Dr. Nathan Schlicher, President of Washington State Medical Association, “and he had his heart attack and his arrhythmia and he didn’t survive.”

Other healthcare workers expressed their concerns with having to go into the hospital every day for the past nine months with the possibility of being exposed to the virus.

“I’ve had to face down the fear of being exposed without proper PPE protection and have almost daily conversations with coworkers who go to work every day, fearful that this is the day they will get sick and take COVID home to their families,” said Betsy Scott.

If the state were to stay on the current path of cases and hospitalizations, Inslee says difficult decisions will have to be made about who gets care provided.

“And that will happen unless the trajectory of this disease is changed in some fashion,” said Inslee.

While the vaccine will be more widely available to the general population next year, the Governor said there is good news ahead if we just stick together in the next few weeks.

RELATED: Gov. Inslee announces new statewide restrictions on dining, gatherings as COVID-19 cases surge