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Washington gets set for wave of COVID-19 cases

Jay Inslee
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee discusses the state’s response to the coronavirus outbreak during a bill-signing ceremony. (King County TV via YouTube)

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says state officials are making joint preparations with the Defense Department to get more hospital beds and medical supplies ready for an expected rise in coronavirus cases.

During an Olympia news briefing, Inslee said he had a “very positive discussion” with Defense Secretary Mark Esper today about a coordinated response. “I would predict that we’re going to be getting real help from the Department of Defense, and that that will be necessary,” he told reporters.

Inslee said the Pentagon’s help will include more than 1,000 hospital beds that are coming in via the National Guard. “There are thousands [of beds] that we are likely to need,” the governor said.

Over the past week, Inslee has put a wide range of emergency measures into place to slow the spread of the outbreak, including closures of sit-down restaurants, bars and schools as well as a ban on sports and entertainment events and on social gatherings of more than 50 people. What’s more, many hospitals have postponed elective procedures to preserve capacity for COVID-19 cases.

Despite all those measures, public health officials worry that a rapid rise in cases requiring hospitalization could overwhelm the state’s medical facilities. As of today, more than 1,000 confirmed coronavirus cases have been reported in Washington, which is nearly four times what the count was a week ago.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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