Inslee closes schools in Washington state counties

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Schools in King, Pierce, Snohomish counties affected

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — One day after the Seattle Public Schools closed for 2 weeks due to the coronavirus, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said he is closing schools in three counties in the state.

Schools in King, Pierce and Snohomish will be closed through April 24.

Inslee made the announcement alongside Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal, the Eatonville School District Superintendent Krestin Bahr and the president of the Washington Association of School Administrators.

“We do not take these decisions lightly and I am fully aware of the various impacts this has on families and communities,” Inslee said during the press conference. “Today’s decision has a full range of implications from learning plans and childcare, to free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch, just to name a few. I anticipate this will cause ripple effects throughout our state. But we can’t afford not to do it. We must ensure that we slow the spread of this virus.”

On Wednesday, Inslee announced a ban on gatherings and events of more than 250 people in three different Washington state counties — which includes virtually the entire Seattle metro area — to try to stop the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

“This is not just your ordinary flu,” Inslee said. “This demands a response consistent with the nature of the threat.”

Washington has at least 24 COVID-19 deaths and more than 260 confirmed cases.

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In what they called an abundance of caution, the Clark County Public Health Department recommended cancelling large gatherings of more than 250 people due to the coronavirus pandemic.

There’s only been one confirmed case of COVID-19 in Clark County as of March 12. But that case was deemed community-spread.

The Public Health Department is NOT recommending closing schools at this time. Children are not at high risk for the coronavirus, officials said.

“We’re making these recommendations in an effort to help slow the spread of the virus in our community,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County health officer and public health director. “By slowing the spread of the virus, we can protect those in our community who are at risk for severe illness and lessen the impact to our health care system.”

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