Healthy Washington: Gov. Inslee announces new reopening plan, resumption of some activities

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Governor Jay Inslee announced a new reopening plan for the state of Washington, which will go into effect on January 11.

“Healthy Washington” includes a small resumption of some activities across the state, including live entertainment with tight capacity restrictions and certain fitness programs.

The new plan will include additional phases and be organized by region instead of by county. This is because “health care systems are regional and we know that the virus does not respect county boundaries,” Inslee said.

Counties will be grouped into eight regions based on health care system resources over a geographic area; Spokane, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Ferry, Lincoln, Adams, Whitman, Garfield and Asotin Counties make up the east region. Additionally, there will not be an application process to advance through phases. The state health department will be in charge of moving those regions forward through the Healthy Washington plan.

To advance, those regions must show a 10 percent decreasing trend in case rates, a 10 percent decrease in COVID hospital admission rates, an ICU occupancy rate that is less than 90 percent and a test positivity rate of less than 10 percent.

In Phase 2 of the plan, restaurants may open indoor dining at 25 percent capacity, as may indoor fitness centers. Sports competitions will resume with limited spectators and wedding and funeral ceremonies can increase their capacities from current limits.

Inslee also took time to discuss the state’s vaccine rollout plan. He said the first phase is moving “efficiently” and believes the state is seeing encouraging numbers. The state has not yet announced its full rollout plan, but information about Phase 1B will discussed during a news conference on Wednesday.

Meantime, the statewide curve of COVID-19 spread “does not appear to be worsening right now,” Inslee said. He attributed this to efforts taken by Washingtonians over the past 10 months. He said the state is still working to get a better idea of how a number of new factors will impact the curve, including the impact of transmission during holiday gatherings.

“I know we can’t reopen every business today. I feel terrible for many thousands of business owners who are in a difficult and painful position right now. I said earlier that this pandemic has not left one person untouched by its impact, and that’s why people are suffering right now more than anything else,” Inslee said. “We’ve prevented more suffering; averted a worse economic downtown; saved more lives; and we have not forgotten the people who deserve relief, from business and labor to families and housing, and we will keep up the fight to get more people through these times.”

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