Coronavirus: Inslee announces ‘Safe Start’ county-by-county phased reopening plan

VIDEO: Inslee announces ‘Safe Start’ county-by-county phased reopening plan

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Gov. Jay Inslee announced Friday that he will let the statewide “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order expire Sunday night and that the state will move to a “Safe Start” county-by-county phased reopening approach on Monday.

Under the “Safe Start” plan, each county will start Monday in their current phase. However, individual counties will be able to apply to the secretary of health to move between the phases or add new business activities.

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Inslee said applications must be submitted by a county executive. If a county does not have a county executive, it must be submitted with the approval of the County Council/Commission.

Inslee said the secretary of health will evaluate each application based on how their data compares to certain targets (see below).

An individual county’s ability to respond to outbreaks, increased deaths, health system capacity and other factors will also be considered, Inslee said.

Breakdown of the ‘Safe Start’ targets

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COVID-19 activity

Incidence of new cases reported during prior two weeks Target: <25 cases / 100,000 / 14 days
Trends in hospitalizations for lab-confirmed COVID-19 Target: flat or decreasing
Reproductive rate (if available) Target: Re < 1

Health care system readiness

Percent of licensed beds occupied by patients (hospital census relative to licensed beds) Target: Green <80% (Yellow: 81-90%; Red: >90%)
Percent of licensed beds occupied by suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases Target: Green: <10% (Yellow: 11-20%; Red: >20%)

Testing

Average number of tests performed per day during the past week (or average % tests positive for COVID-19 during the past week) Target: 50 times the number of cases (or 2%)
Median time from symptom onset to specimen collection among cases during the past week Target: median <2 days

Case and contact investigations

% of cases reached by phone or in-person within 24 hours of receipt of positive lab test report Target: 90%
% of contacts reached by phone or in person within 48 hours of receipt of positive lab test report on a case Target: 80%

Protecting high-risk populations

Number of outbreaks reported by week (defined as 2 or more non-household cases epidemiologically linked within 14 days in a workplace, congregate living or institutional setting) Target: 0 for small counties (<75,000), 1 for medium counties (75,000300,000), 2 for large counties (>300,000), 3 for very large counties (>1 million)

Inslee noted the targets are not to be intended as hard-lined measures and said if one target is not fully achieved, actions taken with a different target may offset the overall risk of COVID-19 transmission.

The “Safe Start” plan also allows the secretary of health to approve a county to move in whole to the next phase or to only approve certain activities in the next phase.

Modified phase 1

Counties that will remain in phase 1 Monday also have the ability to apply to move into a “modified” phase 1 approach.

The modified phase 1 approach would include the following phase 2 activities with specific requirements:

Recreation and fitness: Only allowed outdoor with five (not including the instructor) or fewer people outside of household

Gatherings: Only allowed outdoor of five or fewer people outside the household

Additional construction: As outlined in phase 2 guidance.

Manufacturing operations: As outlined in phase 2 guidance.

Real estate: 25% of building occupancy. Indoor services limited to 30 minutes.

In-store retail: 15% of building occupancy. Indoor services limited to 30 minutes.

Personal services: 25% of building occupancy.

Professional services: 25% of building occupancy.

Indoor services: limited to 30 minutes for customers

Photography: As outlined in phase 2 guidance.

Pet grooming: 25% of building occupancy.

Restaurants: No indoor dining allowing. Outdoor dining is permitted but seating at 50% of existing outdoor capacity.

Counties in phase 2 eligible to apply to move to phase 3

Under the “Safe Start” plan, counties that have been in Phase 2 for at least three weeks can apply to move (in whole or in part) can also apply to move to phase 3.

The applications must also be submitted to the secretary of health by a county executive. If a county does not have a county executive, it must be submitted with the approval of the County Council/Commission.

The earliest any counties could move to phase 3 would be Wednesday.

Counties moving back to an earlier phase

Under the “Safe Start” plan, counties can identify when they need to return to an earlier phase by submitting a rational and relevant data to the secretary of health.

The secretary of health also has the authority to return a county to an earlier phase if the county chooses not to do so on its own and the secretary has identified a need to do so. The “safe start” plan requires the secretary of health to notify a county in writing and provide an explanation for why it is being moved to an earlier phase.