In a move that many conservative analysts interpret as politically timed for the Nov. 8 election, Nov. 1 is the first day in 976 days that Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee doesn’t have vast and self-proclaimed emergency governing powers.
Inslee declared a statewide emergency on Feb. 29, 2020 in response to the Covid pandemic, which was an emerging crisis that started in China, moved to Washington state and other states, and ultimately spread across the country.
The emergency declaration gave Inslee nearly absolute power, and he issued dozens of additional proclamations, including mask mandates, vaccine mandates, various moratoriums, and shelter-in-place orders.
In October, Inslee announced Oct. 31 would be the last of day of his emergency declaration.
The statewide Face Covering Order issued by the state Washington Department of Health remains in place for health-care and long-term care settings and correctional facilities under certain circumstances after the state of emergency ended.
The progressive governor, who has had numerous state employees fired for not getting the Covid vaccine, is also looking at options to ensure there are protections for workers who choose to wear a mask in their workplace. Some of the more liberal counties in Washington are keeping their emergency powers.
The “final number” of Washington State Patrol workers fired for vaccine refusal was 127 in October of 2021 — nearly 6% of the entire agency.
Washington’s Covid vaccination requirements for health care and education workers ended Oct. 31. Employers may, however, require vaccinations as a condition of employment and Inslee has already announced that Covid vaccinations are still a condition of employment for most state agencies.
The end of the governor’s emergency comes after Inslee had essentially one-man rule for 975 days, said Centralia State Senate Republican leader John Braun, R-Centralia, who serves in the minority party.
Inslee bragged that Washington has one of the lowest Covid death rates in the nation, and said that other states should have created the mandates he ordered, which he said would have saved lives nationally.
In fact, Alaska, under Gov. Mike Dunleavy, had a lower death rate than Washington. And Mississippi, which had the highest death rate, has some of the highest rates of health factors that made the residents vulnerable to Covid. Those include obesity, hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, renal diseases, lung diseases, and compromised immune systems.
Washington, on the other hand, has the eighth youngest population in America. The youngest states are Utah, Alaska, Texas, Georgia, Colorado, California, North Dakota, and then Washington.
All kinds of factors lead to who succumbs to the Covid virus, but age and co-morbidities are known contributors to how people are impacted by the virus.
“Ending the state of emergency is long overdue,” Braun said in a published statement. “With this finally behind us, I hope the majority party will be willing to discuss legitimate bipartisan reform of the governor’s emergency powers.”
The end of Inslee’s emergency powers comes exactly one week before midterm elections. Inslee, a hardline Democrat, is not up for reelection this year, but several key races are polling within the margin of error between Democrat and Republican candidates, and it appears Inslee is working to improve his party’s odds of remaining firmly in power in Washington.