The following is a transcript of an interview with Washington Governor Jay Inslee that aired Sunday, June 28, 2020, on "Face the Nation."
JOHN DICKERSON: Yesterday, Governor Jay Inslee put a hold on reopenings in Washington, citing the state's rising coronavirus cases. He joins us this morning from Bainbridge Island. Good morning, Governor.
GOVERNOR JAY INSLEE: Good morning. Thanks for having me.
JOHN DICKERSON: Tell me, Governor, about the increase in cases. Your state health officials said that in certain counties the situation is comparable to March in what was happening in King County. What's going on?
GOV. INSLEE: Well, we have a fire in many places across the United States, including a few of the counties in my state, where the situation is so dire that people are gasping for breath and having to be transported by ambulance over a mountain range over a hundred miles to be treated. And so I- when I- when I heard the vice president talk about how things are just hunky dory, it's just- it's just- it's just maddening. The situation is critical in many places across the United States and all the happy talk and wishful thinking in the world is not going to wash that away. So we are taking very strong measures to get people to mask up. We know that's the solution from a health standpoint and the way to reopen our economy.
JOHN DICKERSON: So is that why you're seeing the increase in cases? You think it's because people aren't wearing masks?
GOV. INSLEE: In some places, not as much as they should. That's where we put an order in effect, including businesses' obligation in this regard. And we sure could use some leadership from the president. It is so difficult. From day one, he has downplayed and distorted and disabled our ability to fight this war because information is like the aircraft carriers of World War II. It's how we fight this virus. So right now, we are in an urgent national mission or should be to- to mask up. And the fact is, is that Donald Trump is for masking up like George Wallace was for integration. And we governors are urging people now to use this effective te- technique. One hundred percent masking, means 100% opening up. And all of us should be on that bandwagon right now.
JOHN DICKERSON: On this masking question, it's not just the president, though, who has been lukewarm about it. You've had resistance from your own sheriffs, from within your own state. You know, the vice president talks about federalism. Isn't it much more likely that a message about masking is going to be listened to if it comes from within the community, from you or from a mayor, than if it comes from a president on the other side of the country? So this is about more than just the president's muddled message. People just don't want to wear masks.
GOV. INSLEE: Well, actually, if they get a message from the president, it's amazing that they do. We have increased mask usage in Yakima County from 35 to 60%. It continues to grow. But here's the situation we've had to deal with. To some degree, Republican, Democrat governors alike, the mom- we had sort of a bipartisan consensus here. People were pulling together. The moment Donald Trump tweeted that he wanted to liberate Michigan from the health messages of Governor Whitmer, the moment he did that, all of a sudden people wearing MAGA hats decided they didn't want to help out as much. And that has been very, very damaging. We need a president who will be fully committed to a message of health. You know and instead of tweeting the other day about the importance of masks, he tweeted about monuments. Now we need a president who will care more about living Americans and less about dead Confederates. This has an enormous impact. And if we can get everybody wearing a MAGA hat to wear a mask, we're going to tame this virus, because this masking is very, very effective. And I do want to reiterate, this is the way to open our economy. If that's all people cared about, if we get people to mask up and we can reopen our economy, that would be a good day for everyone.
JOHN DICKERSON: Tell me about the agricultural sector, Governor. That seems to be one of the areas where you're seeing an increase in cases. Those are essential workers. This isn't about going to a bar. This is about feeding the country. Why is that a particular problem? And wasn't that problem foreseeable?
GOV INSLEE: Well, look, we- we've got to have an agricultural industry because we need to eat across the United States. So we have asked people to step in and- and continue to work in these industries and they have done that. And we have learned, we've had more successful protocols to reduce the rate of transmission. You can understand why these are higher levels of transmission where people are working close- closely together. But we've put into place some really good protocols, although we need to continue to increase testing in these facilities. And that's why from day one, when the president said that this was just going to go away Monday and that we had adequate testing, that also disabled some of our efforts. But right now, it is not just the agricultural industry. And I think that's important to say. We have very widespread community transmission in some of our counties. And this points to the fact that all of us need to pull on this rope and we can use some national leadership in that regard.
JOHN DICKERSON: This week, you put some guidance out that- for reopening college instruction. Given the spikes you've seen, do you still think colleges are going to be able to open in your state?
GOV INSLEE: I think there is a likelihood of that because we've developed very sensible plans to open up in a way that's smart. That means you maximize your facility for social distancing. That means everybody wears a mask, which has been shown to be effective. It means that sometimes we have cohorts, so small groups of people stay together and don't mix with larger groups. And we have adequate testing to be able to reduce any- any transmission. So I think that there is a reasonable probability that we will have very broad scale on-campus activity this year. But again, this virus is a wily beast. And the one thing we have to fight it right now is good information and good inspiration.
JOHN DICKERSON: All right, Governor--
GOV. INSLEE: Look, I- I don't- I don't know why--
JOHN DICKERSON: Governor--
GOV INSLEE: --the president has been against testing on this.
JOHN DICKERSON: All right. I'm sorry, Governor. We're going to have to end our information there. We have to go to a break. Thank you so much for being with us.
GOV INSLEE: Be safe, mask up.
JOHN DICKERSON: And we'll be right back.
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