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caption: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is flanked, from left, by state Secretary of Health John Wiesman, Emergency Management Director Robert Ezelle and Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal during a coronavirus briefing Monday in Olympia.
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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is flanked, from left, by state Secretary of Health John Wiesman, Emergency Management Director Robert Ezelle and Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal during a coronavirus briefing Monday in Olympia.
Credit: Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Washington state to cover COVID-19 tests for the uninsured, Gov. Inslee says

Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday announced that Washington state has plans to cover the costs of COVID-19 tests for residents without health insurance.

The update came as state health officials also announced a total of 70 confirmed coronavirus cases in the state: 51 in King County, 18 in Snohomish County, and one in Grant County.

"For the uninsured in our state, whose doctors believe they need testing, I am announcing that we have the authority and intention to cover those costs by the state of Washington," Inslee said during a Thursday morning press conference. However, the specifics surrounding said plans weren't immediately clear.

Additionally, state insurance commissioner Mike Kreidler said that an emergency order was sent to Washington health insurers to cover required COVID-19 testing without copays or deductibles. The order only extends to insurers with state-regulated plans.

"In addition to that, individuals will be able to have a one time, refill on their prescriptions as a part of that emergency order," Kreidler continued.

Inslee also reiterated recommendations that people "seriously consider" avoiding large events and that organizers consider postponing events. He added that while the state wasn't yet issuing any official orders regarding large gatherings, one could come later.

Inslee pointed to the large scale shutdown of Wuhan, the city in China where the COVID-19 outbreak is believed to have originated. China has seen upwards of 3,000 deaths related to the illness, according to the World Health Organization.

"Acting even before we see mass casualties may be the most effective thing to do and we call all be leaders in that regard," he said. "So we're asking people to look ahead a few weeks and not want to be in the position in Wuhan, China."

The governor also announced Thursday that workers compensation would be expanded to cover quarantined health workers and first responders on the ground amid the COVID-19 outbreak.