3 counties go back to phase 2 of state’s reopening plan

Pierce, Cowlitz and Whitman counties have rolled back to phase 2 in the state’s reopening plan.

On Monday, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that the three counties failed to meet the phase 3 metrics for reopening.

The rollbacks went into effect Friday.

“These metric trends are driven by the virus and we must continue to do everything we can to sharpen our focus and keep COVID-19 activity down. We are so close to the end of the tunnel here  —  we have made tremendous progress and we must keep our focus,” Inslee said. “It’s like a football game; we have done 95 yards on a 99-yard drive. We can’t let up now. These are not punitive actions: they are to save lives and protect public health.”

The remaining 36 counties will remain in phase 3 of the reopening plan.

Rolling back to phase 2 would return indoor dining capacity to 25%, and impact gyms, retail stores and churches.

Last week, Inslee loosened some of the requirements to make it easier for counties to remain in phase 3 of the reopening plan.

>> State changes rules, fewer counties to return to phase 2

To stay in phase 3, counties need to have fewer than 200 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents in two weeks and fewer than five new hospitalizations per 100,000 residents in a week.

Counties must fail both metrics to get rolled back.

Inslee still plans to wait until May 3 before ordering any more rollbacks in hope that the numbers will get better.