As the number of new COVID-19 cases in our state begins to rapidly decrease, Washingtonians are beginning to realize the economic impacts of more than month of statewide shutdown. “Non-essential” workers are still being required to stay at home, and all “non-essential” businesses and non-profits required to close – that is, except for abortion clinics.

Our governor had previously extended the state’s mandatory shutdown to May 4, but with that date rapidly approaching, he is thought to be mulling yet another extension, which would force the economy to remain closed and people to stay at home for even longer. Fortunately, some of our state’s larger employers, like Boeing, are actively planning to return to normal operations as early as Monday.

Scientific data has shown that social distancing has been effective, but the economic cost of that gain is significant. Finding the right balance between economic stability and smart policy as it relates to COVID-19 is essential if we are to mitigate the trickle-down economic effects of the shutdown.

Yet another angle to this story, however, is the puzzling continuation of the abortion industry’s grip on “essential” status. Despite an ongoing statewide ban on elective medical and dental procedures, abortion clinics have been allowed to remain in operation, despite more than 98% of their procedures being elective in nature, and not medically necessary. Many states have forced their abortion clinics to close because of the competition for scarce personal protective equipment (PPE).

Governor Jay Inslee allowed them to continue operating as if nothing has changed, but he continues to expect other medical and dental clinics to remain closed, as well as other businesses the government has deemed as “non-essential.”

FPIW believes that every business is essential to the owners and employees who are sustained by it. So long as social distancing measures are not completely cast aside, Washingtonians who want to work should be allowed to resume. In order for that to take place, the forced closure of businesses should cease. We believe it would be prudent to shift the created burden of economic weight from the government and back onto the strong national economy, where it belongs.

Government safety nets are useful for a short time, but an indefinite economic shutdown will surely fray those nets. We are calling on Governor Inslee to announce a plan to re-open our state’s economy as soon as possible, balancing the advice of disease experts with the advice of qualified economists.

We cannot fully know how long COVID-19 will continue to exist, or whether the effects of the illness may be felt for years to come. In order to fully recover, Washington State will need to ensure that the policies we implement to flatten the curve don’t simultaneously cast able-bodied members of the workforce and the vulnerable individuals we are trying to protect from illness into poverty.

We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on how to get Washington’s economy working for Washington’s families again. Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section and we will be sure to share those with policymakers in our state.