Inslee loosens ‘Healthy Washington’ requirements for counties to remain in phase 3

(Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times via AP, Pool)
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks with sixth graders in teacher Michelle Dyer's class during a visit to Firgrove Elementary School in Puyallup, Wash., Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. Students are back in school and all teachers and students are wearing masks.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Governor Jay Inslee has announced changes to how the state will evaluate counties’ progression through Washington’s reopening plan.

The changes make it more difficult for a county to move back a phase.

Inslee said in order to move down a phase, counties must fail both metrics for case counts and hospitalizations. Previously, a county only needed to fail one metric to move back one phase.

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The loosened requirements come just a few days ahead of the state’s first evaluation since moving all counties to Phase 3 of the Healthy Washington plan. The changes should bode well for Spokane County remaining in Phase 3, though a specific decision will be made Monday.

Based on previous metrics, Franklin County was at risk of moving back from Phase 3 of the state’s re-opening. Further information on Southeastern Washington’s standing will be provided in Monday’s update.

“Given the incredible progress on vacations and our focus protecting people from severe illness, we believe analyzing and requiring both metrics together is the right approach to make sure we’re considering the connection between COVID cases and our medical system and hospitalizations,” Inslee said.

Case counts and hospitalizations are rising in Washington, as well as nationally, but vaccinations are making a difference, the governor’s office said. More than 3.8 million doses have been administered across the state and in less than a week, eligibility will expand to all Washingtonians ages 16 and older.


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