OLYMPIA — Washington state advanced to Phase 3 of its COVID-19 reopening plan on Monday.
All of the state’s 39 counties will be allowed to relax coronavirus restrictions.
Under Phase 3, all indoor spaces — including indoor dining at restaurants, indoor fitness centers, and retail — can increase capacity from 25 percent to 50 percent. Larger events like concerts and graduation ceremonies will also be OK because as much as 400 people will be allowed to gather for indoor and outdoor activities as long as physical distancing and masking are enforced.
In order to stay in Phase 3, counties just need to meet two metrics, and the metrics are different for counties that have fewer than 50,000 people.
Larger counties must have less than 200 new cases per 100,000 people over a two-week period and have fewer than five new COVID hospitalizations per 100,000 people over a one-week period.
For 17 smaller counties — Klickitat, Asotin, Pacific, Adams, San Juan, Pend Oreille, Skamania, Lincoln, Ferry, Wahkiakum, Columbia, Kittitas, Stevens, Douglas, Okanogan, Jefferson, and Garfield — they have to have fewer than 30 cases over a two-week period and fewer than three new COVID hospitalizations over a one-week period.
Counties will be evaluated every three weeks, starting on April 12. If any county fails one or more of the metrics, they will move down one phase. If statewide ICU capacity tops 90 percent, all counties will move back to the most restrictive first phase, which includes a prohibition on indoor restaurant dining.
New cases in Whitman County
Whitman County this past weekend received 26 new positive COVID-19 test results.
There have been a total of 3,734 positive cases confirmed in the county, to date. No new COVID-19 deaths were reported during the weekend. There have been 46 deaths and 93 hospitalizations, to date, because of the virus.
The newest patients include six people younger than 20, 18 people between ages 20-39 and two people between ages 60-79.
Washington State University is reporting 38 students and seven employees who tested positive are currently in their 10-day isolation period.
Tests for UI students
University of Idaho President Scott Green reminded students on campus in a Monday memo that they must schedule a COVID-19 test. Green said that significantly fewer COVID-19 tests were completed last week because of spring break. Of the 376 results, 2.93 percent were positive.
“After a bit of an isolated spike a few weeks ago, this is good news for the third week in a row,” Green said in the memo.
There were three positive COVID-19 tests reported in Latah County during the weekend. All were between ages 18-29.
There have been 2,723 confirmed cases, 156 probable cases and eight total deaths in the county, to date, because of the virus.
Starting last week, Idaho Public Health announced all people 35 and older in Latah County can immediately start scheduling COVID-19 vaccinations.
People can visit idahoprepmod.com to make an appointment.
Washington is in Phase 1B, tier 2 for its vaccine rollout. Residents can assess their eligibility for the vaccine at findyourphasewa.org.