Business owners brace for reopening rollbacks

On Tuesday, Gov. Jay Inslee will announce which counties will roll back in the Roadmap to Recovery Plan.

The Department of Health stated it is analyzing complete data, which requires a lag. For new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents in the population spanning two weeks, the department is using data from April 11-24. The other metric is new hospitalizations per 100,000 residents in the population spanning a week. That data is being pulled from April 15-21.

In some counties, COVID-19 impacts were worse more recently, so they could benefit from the earlier window of data. It appears Pierce County could stay in phase 2, and King County is likely to roll back to phase 2.

“We knew this was going to come, watching the numbers, and it’s really disheartening,” said Carolyn Scott, owner of Woodblock and Spark Pizza in Redmond. “We really try to take care of our staff and much as possible, and it is discouraging and sad to tell people their hours are going to be cut.”

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Carolyn Scott and her husband, Tony Scott, have been working to pivot throughout the pandemic.

They made all of the seating at Spark Pizza outdoors. They are using the space inside to handle their takeout orders.

“Takeout and delivery have really kept us afloat,” said Tony Scott.

If King County rolls back to phase 2, indoor dining capacity will be cut from 50% to 25%. While it won’t impact Spark Pizza, it will make it harder on business at Woodblock.

“Over the last year, that has been the pattern — fewer guests and more expenses. And it’s been hard,” said Tony Scott.

At Woodblock, there is a large outside tent to help with dining capacity. It’s also across the street from a park. Diners are encouraged to grab takeout and have a picnic there.

The Scotts have seen COVID-19 fatigue set in with some customers. “Every night, we have people who refuse to wear a mask. And unfortunately, if they refuse to wear a mask, we have to refuse service,” said Carolyn Scott.

The Scotts hope people will wear their masks and get vaccinated. “The sooner we can get back to any semblance of normal,” said Tony Scott.

Carolyn Scott wondered if the state could divide King County when it considers the phases.

“Is it possible the governor would split the county in half — north and south? It seems like the numbers for south King County are so much higher than they are in north King County, and I’m wondering if that would a possibility the governor would consider in the futue,” said Carolyn Scott.

It is hard to know what will happen next. At first, the state did phases by regions, then changed it to counties. Then, about three weeks ago, right before it was going to announce rollbacks, it changed the rules. Instead of rolling back counties that failed to meet one metric, it made it so that counties have to fail both.

The number of new COVID-19 cases is way up in western Washington. Counties must fail to meet both metrics to roll back, so it looks like this will come down to hospitalizations.

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To stay in phase 3, counties need fewer than 5 new hospitalizations per 100,000 residents in a week.

Through April 19, Snohomish County is over at 6.7. King County also misses the mark at 6.1. The state is still finalizing more data.

When it comes to Pierce County, to stay in phase 2, it needs fewer than 10 new hospitalizations per 100,000 residents. And as of April 19, it sits at 5.2. With only two additional days of data to analyze, it looks like Pierce County will stay in phase 2

The state is still finalizing about two days worth of data that extends beyond what is already posted on its Roadmap to Recovery COVID Risk Assessment Dashboard.

The rollback announcements will be made tomorrow and will go into effect Friday.