Governor Jay Inslee announced new guidelines on Tuesday that would allow for the possibility of additional counties to move into phase two of his recovery plan. This new criterion would require less than ten new cases per 100,000 people in the county in 24 days. Under the new guideline, Adams, Thurston, Lewis, Clark. San Juan, Island, Spokane, Mason, Kitsap, Island and Clallam counties can now apply to move on to Phase Two.
King County has not yet met these requirements as 791 new cases have been reported in the county over the last 14 days for which full data is available. To meet the new threshold, new cases per two weeks in King County would have to drop to 254.
To implement Phase Two, counties must apply to the governor’s office. Moving to Phase Two must be recommended by the local public health officer, and the application must include:
- Board of Health and county commission vote
- Letter from hospitals confirming bed capacity
- Testing data and information
- Local capacity for contact tracing
- Isolation and quarantine information
- Local capacity to perform outbreak investigations
For those counties that are approved, Phase Two of the plan allows small social gatherings to resume but requires that each individual meets with no more than five people outside their household each week. This slows the rate at which an infected individual can spread the virus, and also makes contact tracing much easier. Contact tracing is the process of going back and testing every person an infected individual has contacted so that they can be quickly quarantined if necessary.
Phase Two opens up all outdoor recreation as long as it meets the five-person requirement and allows for some non-essential travel “within proximity of your home.” It also opens up additional businesses, such as non-essential manufacturing, new construction projects, domestic services like housecleaners, in-store purchases at retail establishments, barbershops and nail salons and restaurants at half capacity with table sizes no larger than five. Phase Two allows for people to resume going in to work at offices, but states that “telework remains strongly encouraged.” You can read all phases of the plan here.
The plan does not mention when schools and colleges will be allowed to reopen, or in what capacity. However, it has been confirmed that K-12 schools will not reopen this school year, and according to a May 5 email from Bellevue College Student Affairs, “Summer Quarter 2020 will be offered remotely. A limited number of courses, such as labs, will be held in person, and we will share the details as soon as they are available.”