Why Jefferson County is not applying for Phase 2 right away

May 9, 2020, 7:32 AM | Updated: May 11, 2020, 10:49 am
Jefferson County...
Home to Port Townsend, Jefferson County is popular with tourists. (Nicole Jennings/KIRO Radio)
(Nicole Jennings/KIRO Radio)

Of the 10 counties that Governor Jay Inslee’s office identified as eligible to apply to bypass Phase 1 of the state’s reopening, five counties have been accepted and another three applications are pending. But Jefferson County, although it meets the criteria, is pressing the pause button.

Three elected boards — the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners, Board of Health, and Port Townsend City Council — are taking input from community members before making a decision as to whether or not to apply.

Jefferson County Public Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke said much of the wariness centers around the county’s likelihood of drawing visitors from infected areas — especially since much of the county’s population is vulnerable to COVID-19.

“Jefferson County, essentially, is just 56 miles from Seattle if you take a ferry,” Locke said. “And Jefferson County has the highest percentage of senior citizens in Washington state.”

Gov. Inslee announces variances for five counties, opens curbside retail

Home to Port Townsend and Olympic National Park, the county is known as a favorite weekend getaway for Puget Sound residents.

“Jefferson County is a very popular tourist destination, with a very scenic, historic Victorian town, a lot of coastline, and a nice climate,” Locke said.

If Jefferson County were to be the only county near Seattle to reopen early — the other five being located in Eastern Washington — Locke only sees the potential for visitors being amplified. Add in the beautiful May weather and the desperation to get outside after sheltering in place, and there’s a recipe for daytrippers galore.

Locke is worried cabin fever may not be the only fever they’d bring.

“It’s a problem now that downtown Port Townsend becomes crowded on the weekends with people coming to visit — even though very little is open,” he said.

Small businesses in towns like Port Townsend rely on tourists and are suffering while staying closed, but Locke said even those small business owners have been tremendously supportive of staying closed a while longer.

“Even though they have paid a very high price for flattening the curve, they also don’t want to lose the ground that they expensively purchased,” he said.

Local News

Wishkah ferry...
Dalton Day

Washington ferry cancellations go ‘beyond COVID’: Report highlights systemic staffing issues

The Washington state Legislature outlines why the state ferry staffing model has contributed to crew shortages and cancellations.
7 hours ago
University of Washington...
MyNorthwest Staff

University of Washington returns to in-person learning Jan. 31

The University of Washington announced Monday that regular classes would resume Jan. 31 following online learning for much of winter quarter.
1 day ago
Washington sales tax...
Nick Bowman

‘This is the year to do it’: Bill to reduce Washington sales tax garners bipartisan support

A proposal to reduce Washington's sales and use tax is garnering bipartisan support in the state Legislature this session. 
1 day ago
King County hospitals...
Nick Bowman

King County hospitals issue plea to public during ‘worst situation yet’

King County hospitals issued a plea to the public over the weekend, bearing a simple message: "We need your help." 
1 day ago
Reuven Carlyle...
Nick Bowman

State Sen. Reuven Carlyle to step aside after 13 years in office

Washington State Sen. Reuven Carlyle will not be running for reelection in 2022, as he steps away from the Legislature after 13 years.
1 day ago
salmon hatchery...
Nicole Jennings

New bill has Washington tribes, farmers divided over salmon protective zones

Advocates say a bill to establish salmon protective zones along rivers would save the salmon, but farmers say it would destroy their businesses.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles


Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
Why Jefferson County is not applying for Phase 2 right away