OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee will announce Monday whether some counties in Washington will have to roll back to Phase 2 of the state’s COVID-19 reopening plan because of rising cases.
At a news conference Thursday, Inslee said “we’ve let our guard down to some degree.”
All of Washington’s 39 counties are currently in Phase 3 of Inslee’s reopening plan, meaning all indoor spaces — including indoor dining at restaurants, indoor fitness centers and retail — have been able to increase capacity from 25 percent to 50 percent. Larger events like concerts and graduation ceremonies are OK since as many as 400 people will be allowed to gather for indoor and outdoor activities as long as physical distancing and masking are enforced.
To stay in Phase 3, counties must 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-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 people over a one-week period.
Whitman County could be in danger of moving back to Phase 2, with its two-week total sitting at 441 cases per 100,000 in population, according to the county’s public health website. In actual numbers, Whitman County has reported 217 new cases over the last two weeks.
Asotin County has a total of 28 cases over the last 14 days. Garfield County has zero cases over the same span.
Asotin and Garfield counties are joined by 15 other smaller counties — Klickitat, Pacific, Adams, San Juan, Pend Oreille, Skamania, Lincoln, Ferry, Wahkiakum, Columbia, Kittitas, Stevens, Douglas, Okanogan and Jefferson — that have to have fewer than 30 cases over a two-week period and fewer than three new COVID-19 hospitalizations over a one-week period.
On April 15 all state residents over age 16 will be eligible for a coronavirus vaccination.