Washington Governor Reveals New Wuhan Virus Contact Tracing Plan

In a press conference on May 12, Governor Jay Inslee unveiled plans for a statewide contact tracing initiative.

“[The initiative] is robust, it is vigorous and it is comprehensive, and it needs to be all three to be successful,” Inslee declared. “If we do not succeed in this second stage of our efforts, this virus could come bright back and bite us.”

Inslee claimed that the state has achieved early success in its fight against the Wuhan virus. This tracing initiative represents the next phase of the state’s campaign against containing the Wuhan virus’ spread. Initially, social distancing was the main tool against the virus. Once the state starts making attempts to open the economy, contact tracing and isolation of individuals who test positive will be the next phase of the state’s plan.

“If this is successful, it will allow us to open our economy,” Inslee said. “This next stage… actually will be more difficult, and its success will depend on both the state and local public health officials and families who will need to be committed to this effort to help their community.”

Inslee’s plan was titled “Contact Tracing: Box in The Virus.”

Contact tracing consists of interviewing people who tested positive for the Wuhan virus in order to identify who they’ve been in contact with. From there, those close contacts will be tested and then instructed to isolate themselves and their immediate families.

Per the governor’s recommendations,  people must self-quarantine for 14 days once they experience the initial symptoms.

Individuals who have closely interacted with infected individuals will be subject to quarantines until they receive negative tests, even if they did not test positive or demonstrate symptoms.

Contact tracers will inform those who may have caught the Wuhan virus within 24 to 48 hours of receiving a positive test result.

This entire effort will be a partnership between local health districts and the Washington State Department of health. Individuals should quarantine immediately upon first symptoms and stay quarantined until receiving a negative test result.

As for businesses and individuals who don’t comply, the governor said that they will face punishment in civil or criminal court.

In a video of the press conference, one reporter inquired: “When it comes to contact tracing, how are you guys going to handle people or families who want to refuse to test or to self isolate? If they want to leave their home to get groceries I know you’ve said they can’t do that; how will you make sure they don’t?“

Inslee responded:

We will have attached to the families a family support person who will check in with them to see what they need on a daily basis… and help them. If they can’t get a friend to do their grocery shopping, we will help get them groceries in some fashion. If they need pharmaceuticals to be picked up, we will make sure they get their pharmaceuticals… That’s going to help encourage them to maintain their isolation too.

As far as refusal, it just shouldn’t come to that, and it really hasn’t. We’ve had really good success when we ask people to isolate, and they’ve done so in really high percentages, so we’re happy about that, and we believe that will continue.

Mario Lotmore of the Lynnwood Times noted the following:

Therefore, those individuals that refuse to cooperate with contact tracers and/or refuse testing, those individuals will not be allowed to leave their homes to purchase basic necessities such as groceries and/or prescriptions. Those persons will need to make arrangements through friends, family, or a state provided ‘family support personnel.’