Gov. Inslee announces two-week pause on Phase 2 rollbacks
Gov. Jay Inslee announced Tuesday that the state will be enacting a two-week pause on rollbacks for all counties.
This comes in place of what was expected to be an announced rollback for several Washington counties. Now, those plans will be put on hold, with the state set to “evaluate the situation” again after two weeks.
Cowlitz, Pierce, and Whitman counties — which were all moved to Phase 2 in mid-April — will remain in their current phase. Ferry County will also stay in Phase 2, after voluntarily rolling itself back last Friday. All other counties will remain in Phase 3.
“Looking at our rate of vaccination, if people remain committed to this, there’s a reason to believe that sometime this summer we will have a more substantial reopening,” Gov. Inslee said Tuesday. “While we’re pausing today, it doesn’t mean we have a clear path out of these phases either. But we do have a choice in these next couple weeks to get vaccinated and take more control over the course of this pandemic.”
As for why the state opted for a pause despite concerns over a fourth wave, Inslee noted that cases statewide have begun to level out over the last week, and that “remaining flexible” will continue to be crucial to the state’s response efforts.
“The most recent data we have, including what DOH observed over the weekend, shows us at a plateau in COVID activity,” he said, going on to point out that recent increases in cases and hospitalizations haven’t been coupled with a notable rise in deaths.
In the meantime, Inslee and other health leaders are urging Washingtonians to get vaccinated as quickly possible, with 54% of eligible state residents having at least received their first dose. In total, an estimated 38% of eligible adults have been fully vaccinated.
“Vaccines are one of the most important tools we have to fight this pandemic,” state Secretary of Health Umair Shah said. “This ‘pause’ will allow our partners to advance their efforts to vaccinate individuals, families, and work with businesses to continue to reopen safely.”
In order to remain in Phase 3, large counties need to have 200 or fewer new cases per 100,000 residents over two weeks or 5 or fewer hospitalizations per 100,000 residents over the past week. Counties with a population under 50,000 need to have a rate of 100 or fewer total new cases over a two week period or 3 or fewer hospitalizations over 7 days.
In Phase 2, capacity for retail stores, worship services, indoor dining, fitness centers, gyms, salons, and various forms indoor entertainment is reduced to 25%, down from the 50% capacity permitted in Phase 3.