Five Washington counties approved for early move to next phase of reopening

Saturday, May 9, 2020

The bright colors are to help distinguish the borders of the counties


On Friday Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman approved applications from Columbia, Garfield, Lincoln, Ferry and Pend Oreille counties in the eastern part of the state to move into Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start plan early.

“We recognize COVID-19 is impacting some parts of our state in different ways and some counties will be ready to move forward earlier than others,” Secretary Wiesman said. 
“While recognizing that reality, we set cautious, thorough requirements for counties that want to apply for a variance. Each of the counties approved to enter Phase 2 has demonstrated strong planning and capability in the areas necessary to protect public health in their communities.”

Businesses in the counties approved to move into Phase 2 must wait to reopen until guidance has been released for their industry on how to keep workers and the public safe. They must comply with all health and safety requirements outlined in that guidance to reopen.

To apply for a variance, counties must have a population of less than 75,000 and no new cases of COVID-19 in the last three weeks. The application process requires support from the local health officer, the local board of health, local hospitals, and the county commission/council.

Each county must demonstrate they have adequate local hospital bed capacity as well as adequate PPE supplies to keep health care workers safe.



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