LOCAL NEWS: Washington’s Wahkiakum County poise to move into Phase 3
In Washington, Governor Jay Inslee’s Stay at Home order ended yesterday (Sunday). Most of the state’s less populous counties are already in the second phase of the four phase re-opening process. One local county will soon apply to move to phase 3. KMUN’s Kathleen Morgain explains.
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With the end of Washington’s stay at home order, rules are again being altered as to when and how individual counties can move ahead in the phased re-opening process. With a minimum of three weeks between each move to a new phase, case counts cannot exceed 25 cases per 100,000 people in the two week period prior to a new application. Rapid testing and contract tracing must be in place, plus hospitalizations for Covid-19 must be flat or declining.
Pacific County moved to phase 2 on May 23rd and has finished its first week in the second phase.
Wahkiakum moved nearly two weeks earlier, on May 11th, so is technically ready today (Monday) to submit the next variance application. Chris Bischoff (BISH-off), Wahkiakum Director of Health and Human Services told department heads on Friday that new state guidance is still being developed.
“We don’t know what the application process for the variance for phase 3 looks like, and that’s a problem for me. It isn’t just – please can we – there’s actually a lot of meat that I have to go in to that about, response to the disease, hospital systems having capacity, all those kinds of things, so – I’m preparing the application and the commissioners will have it in front of them on Tuesday.”
Under phase 3, restaurants could move to 75 percent seating capacity. Libraries and museums could re-open, and public gatherings of up to 50 people could take place.
Governor Inslee said on Friday the earliest a county could move to phase 3 would be on June 3rd. Wahkiakum officials hope the county will be among the first to move to the new phase.
In SW Washington, I’m Kathleen Morgain, reporting.