Entire state to progress into Phase 2 of Healthy Washington reopening planning

Okanogan County will move into Phase 2 of the Healthy Washington reopening plan.

All regions of the state have moved into Phase 2 of the Washington Healthy reopening plan.

OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee announced last Feb. 11 that the North Central region, which includes Okanogan County, is one of five regions that have met the metric requirements to will move into Phase 2 of the Healthy Washington reopening plan.

The five regions join the West and Puget Sound regions which had already been approved to progress to Phase 2. The new regions progressing to Phase 2 are: North Central (Okanogan, Chelan, Douglas, Grant), North (Whatcom, Skagit, San Juan, Island), Northwest (Clallam, Jefferson, Kitsap, Mason), East (Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Lincoln, Spokane, Adams, Asotin, Whitman, Garfield), Southwest (Wahkiakum, Cowlitz, Skamania, Clark, Klickitat) and West (Grays Harbor, Thurston, Pacific, Lewis). Last Monday it was announced the only remaining region not moved to Phase 2, South Central region – which includes Ellensburg, Yakima, the Tri-Cities and Walla Walla, was also joining every region in the state to progress to Phase 2 after a data reporting error was corrected.

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) said once it was made aware of the data error, state health officials stepped in to help correct it.

“When errors like this happen, our DOH team is committed to getting things corrected as quickly as possible. We are pleased that partners in the South Central region brought this issue to our attention and we were able to resolve the matter quickly,” said Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah.

In Phase 2, a maximum of five people from outside of a person’s household (up to two households) can gather indoors. where such gatherings were prohibited before. Phase 2 also allows up to 15 people from outside a person’s household (maximum of two households) to gather outdoors where before the maximum was 10. Indoor dining is now available at 25 percent capacity until 11 p.m., where before it was prohibited. Indoor fitness centers can also be open at 25 percent capacity. Retail stores, including farmers’ markets are still limited to 25 percent capacity, the same as in Phase 1.

Last month Inslee relaxed the criteria to move between phases. Counties must now meet three of the following four metrics to be allowed to proceed:

  • 10 percent decreasing trend in case rates
  • 10 percent decrease in coronavirus hospital admission rates
  • ICU occupancy that’s less than 90 percent
  • Test positivity rate that’s less than 10 percent

The DOH said it reassesses the metrics for all eight regions every two weeks. The next reassessment and phase announcement will come on Feb. 25.

Originally the move to Phase 2 was supposed to being on Monday, Feb. 15, but the governor’s Feb. 11 announcement said the regions could start on Sunday, Feb. 14. He said the date was set for the holiday weekend because it provides a large portion of a restaurant’s yearly revenue, and by moving up the region’s reopening date will allow dining establishments to benefit.

“I know this creates more options for restaurants to make Valentine’s Day special for couples who hoped they could have a night out,” Inslee said. “I am confident people, young and old, will celebrate safely. And if it’s a first date that doesn’t go well, remind them to stay six feet away from you.”

According to the Healthy Washington reopening plan, a region may move into a new phase (forward or backward) if their metrics meet the criteria using the most recent complete data. In the Roadmap to Recovery, there are four metrics in total – two metrics that measure community disease levels (i.e., trends in case rates, test positivity) and two that measure health system capacity (i.e., trends in COVID-19 hospital admission rates , ICU occupancy). Three of the four metrics had to be met in order to move forward from Phase 1 to Phase 2:

  • Decreasing trend in 14-day rate of new COVID-19 cases per 100K population;
  • Decreasing trend in 14-day rate of new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100K population;
  • Average seven-day percent occupancy of ICU staffed beds less than 90 percent; and
  • Seven-day percent positivity of COVID-19 tests less than 10 percent.

In order to remain in Phase 2, a region must continue meeting at least three of these four metrics:

  • Decreasing or flat trend in 14-day rate of new COVID-19 cases per 100K population;
  • Decreasing or flat trend in 14-day rate of new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100K population;
  • Average seven-day percent occupancy of ICU staffed beds less than 90 percent; and,
  • Seven-day percent positivity of COVID-19 tests less than 10 percent.

If a region in Phase 2 regresses and no longer meets any three or more of the metrics, the region – including all the counties within – will move back to Phase 1 on the following Monday.

In summary, a region that meets three or four of the Phase 2 metrics will remain in Phase 2. A region that meets zero, or only one or two of the Phase 2 metrics will move back to Phase 1.

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