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Gov. Inslee: Washington ‘close’ to being able to reopen ahead of schedule

Outdoor dining plaza in Seattle's University District. (MyNorthwest photo)

While Washington is scheduled to fully reopen on June 30, there’s a chance the state could reopen before then if vaccination rates continue to trend up.

Republican leaders again call on Gov. Inslee to fully reopen Washington

Gov. Jay Inslee had noted in mid-May that “full reopening could happen earlier than June 30 if 70% or more of Washingtonians over the age of 16 initiate vaccination.” Currently, almost 64% of residents ages 16 and up have received at least one dose, putting the state just below that benchmark.

“This is an amazing moment in our state,” Inslee said during a Wednesday press conference. “We’ve had considerable success on vaccinations, and we are now close to being able to essentially fully reopen our state.”

Earlier in the week, there was confusion over whether Washington had in fact crested the 70% mark already, after White House senior advisor Andy Slavitt took to Twitter to issue words of congratulations to the state for appearing to have reached its goal.

It was later revealed that vaccine percentages used by the federal government differ from Washington’s own numbers. That’s partly driven by the fact that the state uses 2020 population data from its own Office of Financial Management, while the federal government uses data from 2019. The federal government also receives vaccine data from the Department of Defense, Veteran Affairs, the Bureau of Prisons, and other federal agencies, which has not been shared with the state Department of Health.

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While the DOH plans to look into the possibility of incorporating aggregate data from federal agencies, the state will continue to use its own numbers as a barometer for reopening.

At the local level, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced this week that Seattle has officially become the first major U.S. city to fully vaccinate 70% of its residents ages 12 and up. Seventy-eight percent of Seattleites have also received at least one dose.

“It’s really a joy to see the progress we’re making,” Inslee said Wednesday.

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