King County councilmember: Phase 2 rollbacks are ‘old-line thinking’

May 3, 2021, 8:43 AM | Updated: 12:03 pm
COVID-19 vaccine eligibility, Phase 2 rollbacks, vaccination...
The entrance to a West Seattle vaccine clinic. (MyNorthwest photo)
(MyNorthwest photo)

Gov. Jay Inslee is scheduled to announce rollbacks to Phase 2 for several Washington counties on Tuesday. That’s an approach King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn argues isn’t consistent with how the state should be approaching the pandemic at this stage.

With metrics ‘a done deal,’ data points to Phase 2 rollback for King County

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. Under those rules, King County will likely be moved back to Phase 2 this week, currently sitting at 245.5 cases and 6.1 hospitalizations per 100,000.

Despite that, Dunn believes the state’s current strategy is rooted in a reality we no longer live in.

“There are two worlds here: There was the world before the vaccines and there’s the world post-vaccine,” he told KTTH’s Jason Rantz Show. “The systemic statewide or countywide decisions to roll back are old-line thinking — that isn’t what’s happening in the real world now.”

“I just think that we ought to not be thinking the way we were thinking about this last year, and be thinking about a new reality,” he added.

Dunn points to newly-released guidance from the CDC, which states that fully vaccinated people can now go maskless outdoors in public, excepting large crowds like sporting events and live performances.

Given that — and the relative availability of vaccines across Washington — Dunn says it should now be up to people to make responsible decisions, rather than the state to restrict their choices.

What to expect with more counties at risk of rollback to Phase 2

“Everybody has the opportunity to get in and get vaccinated if they choose to do so,” he pointed out. “I strongly encourage people to get vaccinated, but if you don’t want to, that’s your risk. You’re making that call.”

For Dunn, he sees that strategy playing out through “good education campaigns” encouraging people to get vaccinated, while having the state begin focusing more of its attention on addressing the economic impacts of the pandemic.

“We need a more blended approach, and that approach is let’s keep the businesses open at least at some functioning level,” he said. “Let’s encourage everyone who can to get vaccinated — not mandated, but make it strongly encouraged — and let’s keep this thing going.”

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King County councilmember: Phase 2 rollbacks are ‘old-line thinking’