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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday ordered the state’s 7 million-plus residents to stay home, except for “essential activity,” closed all non-essential businesses, and banned weddings and funerals as the “tumultuous struggle” to slow the spread of the coronavirus escalates.
The statewide order allows residents to leave home to buy food, seek medical treatment, essential work and exercise – while maintaining “social distancing” of at least 6 feet from other people. It will stay in place for two weeks.
Washington had the first reported COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. late last month. The virus has sickened at least 2,221 and killed 111 as of Tuesday.
“This is a human tragedy on a scale we cannot yet project,” Inslee said during a televised address. “It’s time to hunker down in order to win this fight.”
Inslee’s directive expands previous actions he took last week that ordered the statewide closure of bars, dine-in restaurants, entertainment and recreation facilities, and banned large gatherings. A week earlier, Inslee closed all K-12 schools in the state.
The long list of essential businesses that will remain open includes grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and gas stations. Those deemed non-essential must close by Wednesday night. All public and private social, spiritual and recreational gatherings are also now banned, including weddings and funerals.
Aerospace giant Boeing earlier announced the temporary suspension of operations at facilities in the state after 24 employees in the Puget Sound area had confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Saturday, the Seattle Times reported.
A 27-year employee at the company's plant in Everett died of the disease over the weekend, according to the paper.
“This is temporary,” the Democrat governor said. “Schools will reopen; weddings will happen; factories will start again; and you can toast the end of this at your favorite hangout. But every single Washingtonian must enlist themselves in this tumultuous struggle.”
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. surpassed 46,000 Tuesday, while the death toll reached 593.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.