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WA Dept. of Health urges state residents to delay summer travel

Many states may still be on lockdown come summer. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The Washington Department of Health is urging state residents to scale back summer travel plans over fears of increasing the spread of COVID-19.

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Specifically, the DOH hopes to have people delay their plans to travel across the state, especially with many counties in Washington operating in different phases of reopening.

“We still want people to limit their travel,” State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy said in a news release. “We have places in Washington with a lot of COVID-19 activity. If there’s a lot of cross-state travel this summer, that could spread disease around the state.”

More specifically, there are concerns that typical vacation activities done while visiting other areas of the state could contribute to the spread of the virus.

“Travel that includes sightseeing and dining out can increase the spread of the disease,” Secretary of Health John Wiesman warned. “If everyone goes about their lives as normal this summer we will likely see a resurgence of cases and may need to close down businesses again, which we don’t want to do.”

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For anyone who does travel, the DOH is advising people to “stay local” and remain as close to home as possible.

This comes as new cases have been on the rise in both Western and Eastern Washington, partially driven by a flare-up in Yakima County. In the Puget Sound region, there’s also been a resurgence in King, Snohomish, and Pierce Counties.

Since mid-June, new cases statewide have jumped from between 100 and 200 every day to over 400. That had Gov. Jay Inslee pausing all applications from counties looking to move into Phase 4 of reopening. Counties in Phase 4 would effectively operate without any restrictions related to COVID-19. Such a scenario was deemed by Gov. Inslee as “impossible at this time.”

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