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Gov. Inslee announces county-by-county plan as stay-at-home order expires Sunday

Gov. Inslee on Friday. (TVW)

Gov. Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order officially ends on Sunday, May 31. As the state moves away from a full lockdown, each county will be required to comply with the guidelines as outlined in their respective phase.

What’s allowed as counties reopen under Gov. Inslee’s ‘Safe Start’ phases

The governor said Friday that the state will move through the phased reopening on a county-by-county basis. On June 1, each county will start in their current phase and be able to apply to move between phases. Inslee said this approach will allow for more flexibility.

Any county will be able to apply to the Secretary of Health to move on to the next phase. The Secretary of Health will evaluate applications based on how their data compare to these targets and the county’s ability to respond to things like new outbreaks, increased deaths, and health system capacity.

The targets are not hard line measures, Inslee explained. The final decision on whether the county can move on to the next phase lies with the Secretary of Health. The secretary will also be able to approve certain activities in the next phase if the whole county isn’t ready to move forward.

Targets include:

COVID-19 Activity:
Incidence of new cases reported during prior two weeks have to be fewer than 25 cases per 100,000 people. That’s changed since the May 19 guidelines of only 10 cases per 100,000 people.
A flat or decreasing number of hospitalizations for lab-confirmed COVID-19.
Reproductive rate of below 1.

Healthcare system readiness:
Percent of licensed beds occupied by patients (i.e., hospital census relative to licensed beds) should be Green: <80% (Yellow: 81-90%; Red: >90%)
Percent of licensed beds occupied by suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases should be Green: <10% (Yellow: 11-20%; Red: >20%)

Testing:
Average number of tests performed per day during the past week (or average % tests positive for COVID-19 during the past week) needs to be 50 times the number of cases (or 2%).
Median time from symptom onset to specimen collection among cases during the past week needs to be fewer than 2 days.

Case and contact investigations:
Percent of cases reached by phone or in person within 24 hours of receipt of positive lab test report needs to be 90%.
Percent of contacts reached by phone or in person within 48 hours of receipt of positive lab test report on a case needs to be at least 80%.

Protecting high-risk populations:
Number of outbreaks reported by week (defined as 2 or more non-household cases epidemiologically linked within 14 days in a workplace, congregate living or institutional setting) needs to be 0 for small counties (<75,000), 1 for medium counties (75,000300,000), 2 for large counties (>300,000), 3 for very large counties (>1 million).

A county also has the ability to apply for a modified version of the phase it’s in. The Secretary of Health can modify parts of the modified phase for each county.

Additionally, the Secretary of Health has authority to return a county to a previous phase if the county chooses or the secretary has identified a need to do so. The secretary must provide rationale.

There are 13 counties in Washington state still in Phase 1, including King, Snohomish, Pierce, Skagit, and Whatcom counties. The 26 counties already in Phase 2 for at least three weeks are eligible to move on to Phase 3.

The new directive from Inslee will also require workers to wear facial coverings at their job starting June 8, unless they do not interact with others.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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