Gov. Jay Inslee has announced that, after more than a year of lockdowns aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19, almost all restrictions will be terminated by the end of June — probably, maybe, if all goes well.

Inslee has been abundantly cautious in his pandemic strategy, generally erring on the side of safety, so he is still not quite ready to absolutely guarantee Washington will be wide open for business in a couple of weeks. The governor’s approach has generally received high marks, especially in liberal Seattle, the big city with the highest vaccination rate in America where folks still dutifully keep their masks on in stores.

Of course, there are parts of the state where Inslee’s COVID-19 dictums have been less popular — the Republican-voting areas. Some GOP legislators have been urging a reopening of the state for a full year. The Republican candidate for governor, Loren Culp, ran on the issue, ranting about Inslee’s imposition of masks, school closures and other such tools of oppression. Inslee crushed Culp in the November election.

It will be interesting to see, as more analysis and research is done, whether Inslee’s robust lockdown policy was prudent or unnecessary. Early data showing rates of infection and death caused by the virus in the country’s four biggest states is intriguing. New York and California, which, like Washington, went all in on prevention measures, had about the same numbers as Texas and Florida where state governments rushed to reopen.

Does that mean all this sacrifice was unnecessary? Does it mean the virus was just too invasive to be stopped by business closures and masks? Or did numbers spike in New York, California and Washington because they were the states that got hit early by COVID-19, well before prevention methods were available? And could Texas and Florida have done far better, given that they had early warnings, if they had taken the pandemic more seriously?

We do not have all the answers, yet. For now, we can be pleased that most Washingtonians took this dread disease seriously and did what they could to protect their communities, even if it turns out we did more than we needed to do.

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