skip to main content
Coronavirus In Seattle
caption: Lori Spencer touches the glass of her mother Judie Shape's window while saying goodbye at the Life Care Center of Kirkland, the long-term care facility at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Washington state, on Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Kirkland.
Enlarge Icon
Lori Spencer touches the glass of her mother Judie Shape's window while saying goodbye at the Life Care Center of Kirkland, the long-term care facility at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Washington state, on Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Kirkland.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Worried about a shelter-in-place order? Well, we're already doing it around Seattle anyway

Little by little, communities across Washington have shut down to combat the spread of COVID-19.

With restaurants and bars boarded up, retailers closed, and grocery stores holding special hours for at-risk populations, some might suspect that the next order coming down from officials will be to shelter-in-place, forcing everyone to stay at home.

San Francisco is already under an order to shelter in place, or what some officials would call "cordon sanitaire."

Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday addressed concerns about whether Washingtonians could become subject a shelter-in-place order.

"Today we're making decisions to help people and their economic conditions, and we can't just try to speculate what may happen 30, 40, 60 days from now," he said during a press conference. "It's just a futile exercise of chasing our tail."

Speaking to Q13, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said that Seattle is already taking the same measures as San Francisco -- we're just calling it something else.

"Really, for most intents and purposes Seattle is doing almost everything that San Francisco is doing, we are just calling it something different," Durkan said. "Most people are not going into work. They are either working from home, or unfortunately their businesses have closed. People are taking the time to keep distances between themselves."

Several Washington state officials and even Bill Gates have promoted that the best response to the pandemic is "social distancing." In other words -- stay away from people, stay home, and keep travel and contact minimal.

The basic idea is to slow the spread of the virus so that health care facilities can handle the load. It has led to the now often quoted phrase "flatten the curve."

In a widely shared graphic, a tan curve represents a scenario without social distancing measures and where the U.S. hospital system becomes inundated with coronavirus patients.
Enlarge Icon
Credit: Connie Hanzhang Jin/NPR

Mayor Durkan also said that the response to COVID-19 "is a dial" and that officials are focusing on telling the public when they have to turn things up or down.

Life In Lockdown: From Shock To Panic To ... Acceptance

So far the dial has been turned to shutting down much of daily life in Washington.

Governor Jay Inslee has also urged Washington residents to go beyond what is already mandated under the state's emergency order.

"If you're over 60, we are asking you to shelter in place right now, because we care about you, we love you, we want you to be around for your grand kids for more years," he said Tuesday.

On Monday, Inslee emphasized that “If we are living a normal lives right now, we are not doing our job as Washingtonians. It is just much too dangerous."

Liz Brazile contributed to this report.