OLYMPIA — Washington's COVID-19 response is working as numbers remain low in most of the state, Gov. Jay Inslee said Tuesday — but as schools reopen and college students move onto campus, health officials worry what the fall might bring.
In fact, cooperation from young people is essential to keep the state's numbers down, Inslee said in a Tuesday news conference.
"We need to have a little bit more safety and a little less Animal House," the governor said, referencing the 1978 college comedy.
Inslee's plea comes as infections in Whitman County continue to climb, with 138 new cases reported during the holiday weekend, not including Friday. The county now has 844 total cases, Whitman County Public Health reported.
Those numbers started to soar when students at Washington State University moved back to campus, despite the school's online model. Before Aug. 20, there were only 138 cases in the county. A week ago, there were 618.
Parties and gatherings with more than 10 people have led to the outbreaks, health experts said, and Pullman police officers have even started issuing citations for students who host parties.
Inslee called socializing in large groups "deadly" right now.
"We need leadership from college students," he said.
Gonzaga University, on the other hand, has eight current and active COVID-19 cases connected to students living on and off campus.