Washington Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee recently boasted that his administration "won the Super Bowl of the COVID pandemic" despite its decision to shutter the state's economy for more than a year and consequently upend the livelihood of tens of thousands of residents.
What are the details?
Inslee made the remarks while facing questions over the extent of his emergency powers in the state. Even as most of the country had lifted the bulk of their coronavirus-related restrictions by earlier this year, Inslee's unchecked authority allowed him to extend strict lockdown restrictions up until last week — more than a year since the pandemic took hold in America and well after vaccines had been made available.
Even now, unvaccinated residents are supposed to wear masks at indoor workplaces and everyone, regardless of vaccination status, is required to wear masks inside places like schools and healthcare facilities.
Yet when asked by KCPQ-TV reporter Brandi Kruse on Sunday whether or not he should reform his emergency powers, Inslee responded, "We have had such tremendous success in our state relative to other states. I don't see a reason for that."
Asked whether it's time to reform his emergency powers, @GovInslee says of his pandemic performance: "I'm not sure… https://t.co/U0t9YzwPy8— Brandi Kruse (@Brandi Kruse)1625417645.0
"The calls we have made have been very difficult but they have succeeded," the governor continued. "I'm not sure you want to go back and reform when you've won the Super Bowl. And we've won the Super Bowl of the COVID pandemic.
"The reason is: We have saved tens of thousands of lives," he added. "I'm not sure I want to reform a system that won the Super Bowl."
Aside from the obvious unfeelingness of Inslee's celebratory demeanor, there are several reasons to conclude that his administration's performance was less than victorious — especially for business owners who lost their businesses due to the state's harsh lockdown orders.
According to data collected by the Washington Hospitality Association, at least 2,500 restaurants in the state permanently closed its doors during the first six months of the pandemic. The organization noted in December that the actual number was likely much, much higher. Tack on several more months of limited capacity measures and it likely only increased.
The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown measures also reportedly took an immense mental and emotional toll on Washingtonians. The United Health Foundation reported that suicides in the state greatly increased over the past year. Just as well, the state experienced a dramatic surge in mental health cases involving anxiety and depression.