Some counties still seeing rise in COVID rates despite whole state moving to Phase 3

Apr 9, 2021, 12:40 PM | Updated: May 18, 2021, 11:36 am
Fires, Washington, Pierce County...
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, center, talks to East Pierce Fire & Rescue Chief Bud Backer, left, and Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier. (AP Photo/Rachel La Corte)
(AP Photo/Rachel La Corte)

Last week, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that all counties are allowed to be in Phase 3 as of May 18, regardless of their case and hospitalization rates. That said, several counties remain over the threshold in both metrics the state had previously used to determine phases of reopening.

Gov. Inslee echoes concerns over move back to Phase 2

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

If a county had failed to meet both those two metrics, it would have been moved down a single phase. For Phase 3 to Phase 2, that reduced capacity from 50% to 25% for indoor dining, retail, fitness centers, salons, and entertainment.

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

Officially in Phase 2 prior to May 18 (4): Cowlitz, Pierce, Whitman, Ferry

Over the threshold (13): Clark*, Cowlitz, Franklin, Grant, Grays Harbor*, Lewis, Pierce, Skagit*, Snohomish, Spokane, Stevens, Thurston*, Whatcom*

At-risk (3): Benton**, King**, Okanogan

Under the threshold (23): Adams, Asotin, Chelan, Clallam, Columbia, Douglas, Ferry**, Garfield, Island, Jefferson, Kitsap**, Kittitas, Klickitat, Lincoln, Mason, Pacific, Pend Oreille, San Juan, Skamania, Wahkiakum, Walla Walla, Whitman**, Yakima**

In total, 15 of 39 counties saw an increase in case rates since we last tracked data on April 29, while 19 of 39 saw an increase in hospitalization rates. Twenty-four of 39 counties saw either a decrease or no change in case rates, while 20 of 39 saw a decrease or no change in hospitalization numbers.

Under the guidelines the state is no longer using, 13 out of 39 counties would be in Phase 2 of reopening, an increase from 11 as of April 29.

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

*Indicates a county that was not over the threshold in both metrics as of 4/29, but has since moved into that category

**Indicates a county that was over the threshold in both metrics as of 4/29, but has since moved out of that category

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Some counties still seeing rise in COVID rates despite whole state moving to Phase 3