Some local public officials are increasingly concerned about whether the state is moving fast enough or the public is taking seriously the advice to reduce their normal activities and stay home when possible.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has not yet issued a shelter-in-place order.
After Skagit County Public Health announced Saturday it is investigating a cluster of cases here, Public Health Officer Howard Leibrand said that people need to stay home and understand that the virus will spread faster now and cause a significant increase in cases in the near future.
Burlington Mayor Steve Sexton emailed a letter to Skagit County commissioners and area mayors Saturday morning that suggested they unite in a strong message for county residents.
“In light of the Governor’s unwillingness to issue any further steps to curb dangerous activities by citizens, I am proposing a joint letter signed by all of us to urge Skagit County residents and businesses to go a step further in restricting their activities,” he wrote.
He told the Skagit Valley Herald that he isn’t pushing for a shelter-in-place order, nor having individual cities try to issue unenforceable restrictions, but feels the governor is not acting quickly enough with stronger recommendations.
“I would like to see the tone become more serious,” he said. “... I think there’s more we can do to help end this thing sooner and save people from becoming infected, and mitigate damages to the economy.”
Skagit County Commissioner Lisa Janicki said she hoped to discuss the issue with other officials in the coming week.
“I think it’s a really close balance of shutting down the economy faster than it needs to be versus control of spread,” she said. “… If local government gets ahead of the governor on shutting things down, if we were to go that extreme, there are different financial outcomes that happen.”
She said she does think there should be conversations with Public Health and medical officials about recommendations to be made.
Mount Vernon Mayor Jill Boudreau said local residents need to take the situation seriously.
“If people can’t understand what they need to be doing, it would be unfortunate for the governor to have to take further steps,” she said. “If people can’t figure it out over the news in the last few weeks, it’s really unfortunate. My daughter is a nurse, and I’m in charge of (Mount Vernon) law enforcement and fire, and I’m really hoping the public will take it as seriously.”