Sen. Ann Rivers says pandemic concerns must include nursing, long-term care

Veteran member of Senate health-care committee says governor’s new limits misguided

Sen. Ann Rivers offered a statement this week regarding the new restrictions placed on Washington families and employers by Gov. Jay Inslee in response to an increase in COVID-19 cases. 

The restrictions on indoor seating at restaurants and bars went into effect Wednesday; all other restrictions on indoor social gatherings, retail stores and other employers took effect Tuesday.

Statement from Sen. Ann Rivers:

Sen. Ann Rivers
Sen. Ann Rivers

“As a former science teacher I’m puzzled by Governor Inslee’s brand of ‘science.’ The latest data about the spread of COVID-19 in our state suggest it’s become safer to be seated inside a restaurant or shopping in a grocery store than it is to be at home. In that sense it would seem the governor is making people less safe by prohibiting them from indoor dining and limiting the number who can be inside a retail establishment. I also wonder if he considered what all these forced business closures will mean to the single women and mothers or minority communities who probably will be affected disproportionately – especially at this time of year. 

“I’ve been in regular contact with leaders in the health-care sector since the pandemic began, and at the moment their concern isn’t about hospital capacity. What they need is a reliable supply of nurses. There are things the governor or the Legislature can do to help – like come up with a way for nurses to move from state to state in response to a pandemic, the way firefighters from Washington can go to California or vice versa to fight wildfires.

“Considering 90 percent of COVID-19 deaths fall into the 60-plus age bracket, and more than half of the deaths are connected to long-term care facilities, I’m also concerned about the cut in Medicaid funding to nursing homes the governor made during the summer. So are the people who are trying to protect access to those facilities. This is one of the many reasons the Legislature should meet in a special session now instead of waiting until January. We need to restore that funding, along with pushing federal relief dollars or money from the state rainy-day fund to restaurants and other small businesses harmed by all these shutdowns.

“The governor’s plan to restart the state economy in phases, county by county, was frustrating in its own right, but at least many businesses had been able to reopen and had reason for hope. Now he’s chosen to fall back on using what amounts to a blunt instrument, with statewide shutdowns of certain businesses. It seems misguided, like he’s confusing motion for action. The science indicates the COVID-19 of November may be more contagious but less lethal than the virus was during the spring – and we certainly know more about how people can protect themselves and others. I get no sense the governor is accounting for that, and it’s disappointing.”

For more information, visit Sen. Rivers’ website at