Inslee announces “Healthy Washington” re-opening initiative

The State of Washington is being divided into eight separate regions. The corresponding data for these regions will determine whether the counties in its jurisdiction can move into Phase 2 of re-opening.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee addressed the pandemic as we turn toward a new year. The most significant aspect of this is the “Healthy Washington” initiative that will help re-open businesses throughout the state.

Taking effect on January 11, “Healthy Washington” sets forth new stipulations for businesses throughout the state to re-open. All regions will be moved into Phase 1 once the initiative begins on that date.

Washington has been divided into eight regions. The South Central region consists of the following counties: Benton, Franklin, Walla Walla, Columbia, Yakima and Kittitas.

To become eligible to enter Phase 2, regions must meet the following criteria:

  • 10% decline in COVID-19 rates over a 2-week span
  • 10% decline in COVID-19 hospital admission
  • ICUs must be below 90% occupancy
  • COVID-19 positivity rates need to be below 10%

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Once a region enters Phase 2, it must uphold three of the four criteria to remain there. Otherwise, the region must return to Phase 1.

In Phase 2, restaurants can re-open at 25 percent capacity. Live events such as sporting events and musical events can also resume but only in an extremely limited capacity. Fitness centers may resume in a limited capacity.

Intimate gatherings such as weddings and funerals will be allowed with certain guidelines once a region moves into Phase 2.

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Gov. Inslee and his team of panelists were impressed by Washington state’s efforts in curving the coronavirus. The Governor was pleased with Washingtonians’ consistency in limiting their travel and gatherings for the holiday season.

Dr. Umair Shah, the Health Secretary for the State of Washington, noted that the state has one of the lowest infection rates in the county. He says that restrictions put in place in November have been effective, “but we’re not out of the woods yet.”

Additional phases will be added to the guidelines once it becomes more safe and appropriate to do so.

There is no application process for a region to move from one Phase to another — It’s based on cumulative data that Washington state authorities are gathering over time.

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