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Yakima, COVID, Modified Phase 1, Counties Phase 2
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These Washington counties are most at risk of being next to roll back to Phase 2

A sign off the highway in Yakima, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

On April 16, Cowlitz, Pierce, and Whitman counties were moved back to Phase 2 of reopening. With the state reevaluating data again on May 3, which counties are most at risk of following those three back to the prior phase?

Gov. Inslee echoes concerns over move back to Phase 2

In order to remain in Phase 3, large counties need to have 200 or fewer new cases per 100,000 residents over two weeks and 5 or fewer hospitalizations per 100,000 residents over the past week. Counties with a population under 50,000 need to have 100 or fewer total new cases tallied over two weeks and 3 or fewer hospitalizations over the past week.

If a county fails to meet both those two metrics, it will be moved down a single phase. In Phase 2, that will reduce capacity from 50% to 25% for indoor dining, retail, fitness centers, salons, and entertainment. Gov. Inslee’s office also put out an update on Friday, noting that spectator events will still be allowed to continue in Phase 2, but will need to follow this guidance.

Given that, we’ve collated state data from all 39 Washington counties, and divided them into three categories:

  • Over the threshold: Counties currently failing to meet both of the required metrics to stay in Phase 3
  • At risk: Counties within 20 cases and 2 hospitalizations of failing both metrics
  • Under the threshold: Counties that are meeting both metrics, or are more than 20 cases/2 hospitalizations away from exceeding at least one metric

Officially moved to Phase 2 as of April 16 (3): Cowlitz, Pierce, Whitman

Over the threshold (11): Benton, Cowlitz, Franklin, Grant, King, Kitsap, Lewis, Snohomish, Spokane, Stevens, Yakima

At-risk (6): Chelan, Douglas, Pierce*, Skagit, Thurston, Whitman*

Under the threshold (22): Adams, Asotin, Clallam, Clark, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, Kittitas, Klickitat, Lincoln, Mason, Okanogan, Pacific, Pend Oreille, San Juan, Skamania, Wahkiakum, Walla Walla, Whatcom

You can see a more thorough breakdown of the data here.

For counties moved back into Phase 2, Gov. Inslee has affirmed that “whatever happens, this will be dictated by the numbers.”

As to what’s driving recent increases in cases, local health officials believe that large, unmasked private gatherings are likely a significant contributing factor.

*As of Thursday, Pierce and Whitman counties are under the threshold in hospitalizations per 100,000 over the last seven days, but will need to be under both metrics in order to move back into Phase 3

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