Okanogan County working to enter partial Phase II Safe Start Plan

OKANOGAN – Okanogan County Public Health announced that nearly 1500 samples have been sent for testing for COVID-19 since testing started. The agency will be updating county’s partial Phase II plan.

In their Friday, May 29 update, the agency said that of the 1498 samples that have been studied, there were still 49 cases that were confirmed as positive, with two deaths and 39 people listed as recovering. While there were 1333 negative test results, 116 test results are still pending.

“Okanogan County Public Health is reporting no new cases today,” said the public health agency.

South County (Pateros to Malott) continues to have the highest number of cases that tested positive, with 19, followed by the Colville Reservation and Mid-County (Malott to Riverside, with 11 each; five in the Methow Valley and three in North County (north of Riverside to Oroville).

The next COVID-19 Update will be Tuesday June 1, 2020. Case counts are updated daily Monday – Friday (except holidays) at: https://www.okanogandem.org/novel-coronavirus19-covid-19.

County-By County Safe Start Plan

On Friday, May 29, 2020, Gov. Jay Inslee announced an updated county-by-county Safe Start plan. The plan outlines new targets and metrics for containing COVID-19 activity and how counties can apply to the state Department of Health with a plan to safely reopen additional sectors of public life.

Under this new approach, counties will now have more flexibility and the ability to apply to the Secretary of Health to demonstrate they can safely allow additional economic activity based on target metrics and a holistic review of their COVID-19 activity and ability to respond.

Gov. Jay Inslee
Gov. Jay Inslee

Target metrics include COVID-19 activity, health system readiness, testing, contact tracing, and protecting the vulnerable. These metrics will be evaluated on an ongoing basis throughout the phased reopening. Counties may identify when they need to return to an earlier phase, and the secretary has the authority to return a county to an earlier phase if the county chooses not to do so on its own and the secretary has identified a need to do so.

Starting on June 1, any county can apply to John Wiesman, Secretary of Washington State Department of Health to move to the next phase from the phase that they are currently in. Okanogan County is currently in Phase I.

Okanogan County Public Health says staff will be working hard over the weekend to update the county’s Partial Phase 2 Variance Request for resubmission. The agency will be holding a special Board of Health meeting on Monday, June 1, 2020 to discuss applying for a full Phase 2 variance. If approved by the Board of Health, Public Health expects to submit the request on Monday afternoon.

Facial Coverings

Inslee also announced new safety and health requirements for businesses operating in Washington’s “Safe Start” plan.

The announcement brings together general requirements for all business operations, including essential businesses operating outside of industry-specific guidance and includes new requirements for facial coverings.

Beginning June 8, all employees will be required to wear a cloth facial covering, except when working alone in an office, vehicle, or at a job site, or when the job has no in-person interaction. Employers must provide cloth facial coverings to employees, unless their exposure dictates a higher level of protection under the Department of Labor and Industries’ safety and health rules and guidance. Refer to Coronavirus Facial Covering and Mask Requirements for additional details. Employees may choose to wear their own facial coverings at work, provided it meets the minimum requirements.

Employers must also post signage at their place of business strongly encouraging customers to wear cloth facial coverings. Businesses are encouraged to require customers to wear cloth facial coverings, in order to protect employees from exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.

Gov. Inslee stressed the importance of wearing cloth facial coverings in public as business activity increases in the state.

“Wearing a mask is strongly encouraged in most circumstances to protect the health of our communities,” Inslee said. “As we start to increases in travel, recreation, and economic activity, it is critical that we remain diligent in order to avoid a sharp increase in exposure. We will continue to closely monitor disease data to determine whether additional steps are needed to protect public health.”

Steps to a Safe Reopening in Okanogan County

In order for us to be successful as we work toward Phase 2 in Okanogan County, it is important for us all to take simple steps to protect ourselves and each other:

  • Wash your hands often
  • Social distancing – keeping 6 feet between yourself and others in public
  • Avoid gatherings that include people outside of your household
  • Wear a mask in public
  • Stay home when you are sick

In order to be successful, we must care enough for one another to take these simple steps to protect one another.

Stay Home, Stay Healthy!

Washington State Department of Health Call Center 1-800-525-0127 Press # after the prompt

Education & Information www.doh.wa.gov/emergencies/coronavirus

Okanogan County Alerts Sign up for alerts like these from Emergency Management at: https://www.okanogandem.org