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Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee during a news conference in Seattle earlier this year. Photo: Elaine Thompson/Pool/Getty Images

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced Sunday new restrictions to mitigate surging COVID-19 cases, as he warned the state is "in a more dangerous position than we were in March, when our first stay-at-home order was issued."

What he's saying: Inslee said if left unchecked, the "raging" pandemic "will assuredly result in grossly overburdened hospitals and morgues, and keep people from obtaining routine by necessary medical treatment for non-COVID conditions."

"The time has come to reinstate some of the restrictions on activities statewide to preserve our well-being and to save lives."

The big picture: Under new measures on social gatherings that'll run from Monday at midnight through Dec. 14, indoor catch-ups with people outside the household will be prohibited unless quarantine conditions are met beforehand. Outdoor gatherings must be limited to five people.

  • From Tuesday, gyms and some entertainment centers must close their indoor services.
  • Retailers including grocery stores, along with personal services such as barbershops and salons, must limit indoor occupancy to 25%.
  • From Wednesday, restaurants and bars will have to limit outdoor service to parties of five or fewer and indoor service will be prohibited.

For the record: In Washington state, more than 2,500 people died from COVID-19, 130,000 have tested positive and 9,400-plus have been hospitalized, official figures show.

  • The state has seen "consistent increasing daily case counts, with over 2,000 cases a day over the weekend and average cases in the state doubling over the past two weeks," per a statement from the governor's office.

Go deeper

CDC to cut guidance on quarantine period for coronavirus exposure

A health care worker oversees cars as people arrive to get tested for coronavirus at a testing site in Arlington, Virginia, on Tuesday. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The CDC will soon shorten its guidance for quarantine periods following exposure to COVID-19, AP reported Tuesday and Axios can confirm.

Why it matters: Quarantine helps prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which can occur before a person knows they're sick or if they're infected without feeling any symptoms. The current recommended period to stay home if exposed to the virus is 14 days. The CDC plans to amend this to 10 days or seven with a negative test, an official told Axios.

  • The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The pandemic is causing an unprecedented drop in health spending

Expand chart
Reproduced from Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker; Chart: Axios Visuals

The coronavirus pandemic has caused national health care spending to go down this year — the first time that’s ever happened.

The big picture: Any big recession depresses the use of health services because people have less money to spend. But this pandemic has also directly attacked the health system, causing people to defer or skip care for fear of becoming infected.

Updated 15 hours ago - Health

U.K. first nation to clear Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for mass rollout

A health care worker during the phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial by Pfizer and BioNTech in Ankara, Turkey, in October. Photo: Dogukan Keskinkilic/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The U.K. government announced Wednesday it approved Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine, which "will be made available across the U.K. from next week."

Why it matters: The U.K. has beaten the U.S. to become the first Western country to give emergency approval for a vaccine that's found to be 95% effective with no serious side effects against a virus that's killed nearly 1.5 million people globally.