SnoCo councilmember: Rolling county back to Phase 2 ‘makes very little sense’

Apr 22, 2021, 5:42 AM
Phase 2 rollback...
Businesses are allowed to remain open at 50% capacity in Phase 3. (MyNorthwest photo)
(MyNorthwest photo)

On Tuesday, Snohomish County Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters warned county residents that the region is on the brink of rolling back to Phase 2 in May. County Councilmember Nate Nehring spoke to KTTH’s Jason Rantz Show to address why he thinks that may not be the right move for local businesses.

Rantz: Gov. Inslee too cowardly to face Washingtonians he sent 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 five or fewer hospitalizations per 100,000 residents over the past week. Snohomish County has now crested one of those thresholds, sitting at 205 new cases per 100,000, and is nearing the hospitalization limit at 4.6 per 100,000.

Spitters theorizes that the county’s recent increase is likely being driven by large, unmasked private gatherings. Given that, Nehring questions why businesses have to bear the brunt of those consequences in the event of a Phase 2 rollback.

“We keep hearing that these increases in case counts are mostly attributed to private indoor gatherings in people’s homes,” he noted. “If that’s true, I don’t know why on Earth the proposed solution from the state is to further restrict businesses who, in my experience, work in good faith to slow the spread, and have been very responsible with ensuring the safety of their customers.”

“The whole thing makes very little sense to me,” he added.

If the county does have to roll back to Phase 2, capacity for indoor dining, retail stores, worship services, fitness centers, gyms, salons, and indoor entertainment would reduced from 50% to 25%.

Phase 2 rollback is Inslee ‘enacting his full authority we seceded to him’

The concern from Nehring — and Snohomish County constituents that he’s spoken to — is that small businesses will be forced to close down, employees will lose their jobs, and the local economy will suffer as a result. More than that, he believes it may be time to acknowledge that “COVID risk is never going to be zero.”

“It would be an unreasonable expectation,” he said. “We can’t just continue to shut down businesses with no end in sight.”

“We’ve got vaccinations now widespread and they have up to 95% efficacy,” Nehring continued. “We’ve got masks, we’ve got social distancing — there really is no reason that government should be continuing to force small businesses to close.”

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SnoCo councilmember: Rolling county back to Phase 2 ‘makes very little sense’