‘Now is the time to move forward’: Washington Dept. of Health announcing plan for ‘co-existing’ with COVID-19

OLYMPIA, Wash – Almost exactly two years after Washington began shutting down schools, businesses and restaurants, the state is set to announce plans to move forward in a new phase of COVID-19.

In a series of posts on Twitter Wednesday, Washington Sec. of Health Dr. Umair Shah said the state will announce its “WA Forward” plan by Thursday.

Dr. Shah wrote, “I’m pleased to announce the DOH will be releasing our WA Forward plan by tomorrow. Things have improved in our state and its time to move forward.”

Shah stopped short of using the term “endemic,” which is when a virus is constantly present. 

The secretary said the long-term response will now focus on engagement and empowerment; prevention, tools and access; and system readiness, support and capacity.

“More importantly,” he tweeted, “this plan will guide us through coexisting with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future.”

Washington has made strides in recent weeks to go back to pre-pandemic behaviors.

The mandate requiring masks in schools and other indoor spaces was lifted on March 12th.

Nearly 72% of those eligible in Washington are fully vaccinated.

Rates of cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the state have plummeted since hitting an omicron-driven high in January.

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