More Washington Counties – From Largest To Very Rural – At Risk Of Reverting Back To Phase 2
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to soon roll back the economic reopening of more counties because of rising coronavirus cases. Reverting to Phase 2 would force businesses, museums and churches to reduce indoor capacity.
Deputy Health Secretary Lacy Fehrenbach says the decision about which Washington counties need to be rolled back will be based on the latest COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations after this weekend.
“It’s never too late to turn it around,” Fehrenback said during a media briefing Wednesday. “And if your county moves back or doesn’t move forward in this review period next week, there’s another one coming up. Our goal here really — and this is why we’re not moving the whole state back — our goal is to keep our state moving forward on a pathway to recovery.”
The public health director for King County, which includes Seattle, says she expects the state’s largest county to revert to tighter health restrictions next week. Snohomish, Thurston, Grant, Franklin, Spokane, Pend Oreille and Stevens counties are also at risk of falling back.
Whitman, Pierce and Cowlitz were previously rolled back to Phase 2 on April 12.
One piece of good news from the state health department’s weekly COVID response briefing came from state epidemiologist Dr. Scott Lindquist. He said it looks like the “fourth wave” of coronavirus infections might have plateaued, based on preliminary data.
Vaccine rates vary
As some counties could revert back to prior reopening phases, there are wide variations emerging in the COVID vaccine uptake rate among the counties.
Statewide in Washington, around 41 percent of the population has rolled up their sleeve for at least the first shot of vaccine. That average masks a yawning gap between the leaders and laggards.
Jefferson and San Juan counties are now well over 50 percent, while in a bunch of northeastern and southeastern Washington counties barely one in four adults has gotten a shot.
“So, we’re partnering on communication and outreach strategies. We’re offering mobile teams; all of those pieces. It’s going to take time for us in these communities,” said assistant state health secretary Michelle Roberts.
According to Roberts, state officials met with the local health department for the rural northeastern counties of Pend Oreille, Stevens and Ferry counties this week to coordinate additional resources. She says COVID vaccine info is going out with utility bills there, and a major disease outbreak may move people off the fence.
It was almost a year ago that Athena Fitness in Olympia was facing financial doom. The women-owned business had opened just before the pandemic struck. In August of last year, new COVID restrictions threatened to put the owners out of business. So, what’s happened since? Continue Reading From ‘Freaking Pissed’ To ‘Big Things’: How One Olympia Gym Survived The Pandemic Uncertainty
Fifteen months after Washington state’s first “stay at home” order was issued in response to the coronavirus, businesses across the state are now allowed to return to pre-pandemic operations. Continue Reading 15 Months Into Restrictions, Washington Mostly Drops COVID Business And Crowd Limitations
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday said all of the state’s counties will remain in their current phase of the state’s economic reopening plan and won’t face more restrictions because new COVID cases are levelling off after a recent spike. Continue Reading Governor Says All Washington Counties Will Stay In Their Current Reopening Phase…For Now