New Covid-19 reopening plan to group counties by hospitalizations

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Governor Jay Inslee announced a new plan January 5 for reopening the economy from his Covid-19 restrictions that will go into effect on Monday, January 11, when the current restrictions are set to expire.

The governor’s “Healthy Washington” plan will allow regions to reopen when they meet four hospitalization and case data targets. Under the plan, state counties are combined into regions, which makes more sense from a public health perspective since many healthcare systems are regional, Inslee said in a January 5 press conference. Whatcom County is in the north region along with Skagit, San Juan and Island counties.

When the plan goes into effect January 11, all regions will be in phase 1 of the two-phase plan. Inslee said more phases will be added to the plan when it becomes clear that the state has reduced Covid-19 transmission “emphatically.”

To enter into phase 2, a region must meet the four targets:

• 10 percent decreasing trend in case rates

• 10 percent decrease in Covid-19 hospital admission rates

• ICU occupancy rates lower than 90 percent

• Test positivity rate lower than 10
percent

The new phase 2 allows for indoor dining and indoor fitness centers at 25 percent capacity, sports competitions with limited spectators, and increased wedding and funeral capacity, the governor said.

There will not be any application process for regions to move into a new phase, he said. The region will automatically move into a new phase if they meet the required metrics, which will be collected and monitored by the Washington State Department of Health.

Some restrictions will be lifted January 11, such as live entertainment with tight capacity and certain fitness programs, Inslee said.

The governor first placed restrictions on indoor dining and other activities in mid-November, which were extended multiple times until January 11.

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