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Pierce County officials at odds over readiness to enter Phase 2 of reopening

(Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, Facebook)

Pierce County officials appear to be at odds with each other over whether the county is ready to enter into Phase 2 of reopening.

Gov. Inslee allows more counties to apply for Phase 2 reopening

The county’s official account tweeted Thursday evening that it is “ready to safely reopen,” and that the county council’s chair and vice chair would be calling for an emergency meeting to approve its application to the state.

That was quickly countered, though, by Pierce County Councilmember Derek Young, as well as the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.

“While we are preparing to be ready, we don’t meet Gov. Inslee’s current requirements,” the health department tweeted minutes after the county announced its intentions.

Councilmember Young went on to point out at that as of yet, neither the County Council nor the health board, “which is the actual decision making body,” have discussed petitioning the state for a Phase 2 variance.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department did also intimate that it’s “hopeful” Gov. Inslee will “announce a change” to the requirements for entering into Phase 2 sometime on Friday.

“If we meet any updated criteria, we will recommend that the county apply,” it clarified.

County Executive Bruce Dammier commented further on Inslee’s reopening guidance while speaking to KTTH’s Jason Rantz Show, labeling it unrealistic for larger counties like his own.

As of publishing, Gov. Inslee has yet to reveal whether he plans on updating the reopening guidelines for counties.

This all came as Snohomish County announced Thursday that it would be looking for approval from its local health officials to submit its own application for a Phase 2 variance.

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The county claims it has the requisite testing, contact tracing, and quarantine facilities needed to enter into Phase 2. In terms of whether its daily case numbers are sufficient, that’s a little more complicated.

Snohomish County says that its rate of infections “approaches the parameters set by the state, if subsets of irregular outbreaks, such as assisted living facilities, are taken into account, as the CDC allows.”

Before an application is submitted to the state Secretary of Health, the District Board of Health and the Snohomish County Council will need to approve it first. Both have emergency meetings scheduled for Friday to consider the proposal.

In total, 25 counties have received approval to enter into Phase 2, which allows for dine-in service at restaurants to resume, and the reopening of salons, barbershops, and more. It also allows for group gatherings of up to five people each week.

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