Spokane County can now apply for early advancement to phase 2 of reopening plan

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Spokane County is now eligible to apply for variance to advance to phase 2 of Governor Jay Inslee’s reopening plan.

Inslee on Tuesday announced new guidelines for larger counties looking to move into phase 2. Now, counties with fewer than 10 new cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day span can apply.

Spokane County’s population sits just above 520,000 people. Since May 5, the county has had 37 new confirmed cases, meaning the region is in good shape to meet the new requirement.

So when could this happen?

If other counties are any indication, Spokane County could be approved for phase 2 by the end of the week.

In the last two weeks, the smaller counties were approved within days of applying for their variance.

Spokane Co. also has an advantage, because they’ve had this info prepared for more than a week.

Spokane is one of 10 counties across the state that is now eligible. The decision to grant variance to larger counties is consistent with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control.

Counties will be approved by the state if they meet the following criteria:

  • Local public health officer’s recommendation
  • Board of Health vote
  • Letter from hospitals confirming bed capacity
  • County commission vote
  • Testing data and info
  • Local capacity to case ad contact trace
  • Isolation and quarantine information
  • Local capacity to perform outbreak investigations

Spokane County’s health officer and county commissioners have already signed off on a request to move to phase 2. Additionally, the Spokane City Council voted unanimously on a resolution supporting that decision.

“If the previous application included the information the state needs, that should be enough,” Inslee said.

The county will need to add some additional letters from Spokane’s hospitals, which Inslee doesn’t think will be an obstacle.

“I think Spokane’s in pretty good shape for hospitals, but we’ll need to know what their contact tracing situation is because that’s really important,” Inslee said.

The health district already has a team of 25 contact tracers in the field, tracking cases.

Under phase 2, crowd sizes will remain limited and there are mandatory protections for workers, but several services are allowed to begin reopening. Those services include hair salons, nail salons and dine-in restaurants serving at limited capacity.

READ: Inslee says guidelines to move larger counties into phase 2 coming in the next few days

READ: Two Spokane Valley bars reopen, defying state order

RELATED: Washington’s health care system, dental services can reopen under new guidelines