COVID-19: Washington state has approved 21 counties for Phase 2 reopening

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Seven more counties have been approved to move into the second phase of Gov. Jay Inslee’s plan to slowly reopen the state following restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19.

KOMO reports that Secretary of Health Jonn Wiesman gave the OK Saturday to Cowlitz, Grant, Island, Jefferson, Mason, Pacific and San Juan counties.

Twenty-one of the state’s 39 counties have now received approval to advance to Phase 2 of the reopening. The 14 counties previously approved are Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Grays Harbor, Lewis, Lincoln, Pend Orielle, Skamania, Spokane, Stevens, Wahkiakum and Whitman counties.

RELATED: Kittitas County: No word on Phase 2 until May 26

Three other counties are now eligible to apply for a variance to move to Phase 2, but have not received approval – Clallam, Kitsap and Thurston counties.

Phase 2 regulations allow more businesses to operate than Phase 1, but those businesses must comply with all health and safety requirements outlined in the guidance to reopen.

To apply for a Phase 2 variance, counties must have an average of less than 10 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day period. The application process requires support from the local health officer, the local board of health, local hospitals and the county commission or council.

Each county must demonstrate they have adequate local hospital bed capacity as well as adequate personal protective supplies to keep health care workers safe. The application must include plans for: