Coronavirus: Six counties move to phase 2; King County approved for modified phase 1

Coronavirus: Six counties move to phase 2; King County approved for modified phase 1
Gov. Jay Inslee at a news conference in Olympia on May 19, 2020.

SEATTLE — Six counties were approved Friday to move into phase two of the state’s reopening plan.

Pierce County officials said it move into phase two of the state’s Safe Start recovery plan and it would take effect Friday.

In phase 2, businesses like restaurants, barber shops and hair and nail salons and retail will have relaxed restrictions.

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“The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting how we work, learn, worship, and play. Every single person in Pierce County is living through one of the most challenging times of our lives,” said county Director of Health Anthony L-T Chen. “We are all eager to resume our normal lives. But we must help our society and economy recover while protecting community health, especially our ethnic communities who suffer disproportionately.”

Snohomish County officials also confirmed that they were approved to enter phase two of reopening plan.

Clark, Okanogan, Skagit and Whatcom counties were also approved to move from phase 1 to phase 2.

King County was approved to move into a modified version of phase 1.

Here are some of the guidance for King County’s modified phase 1:

  • Restaurants can have outdoor dining with 50% capacity and indoor services at 25% with all tables and chairs maintaining 6 feet apart.
  • For personal services such as hair and nail salons and barbershops, all services may operate but the number of clients will be limited to no more than 25%.
  • All services for office-based occupations are allowed but the business’ occupancy should not be higher than 25% capacity and face to face interaction is limited to 30 minutes.

Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens and Wahkiakum counties are approved to move from phase 2 to phase 3.

In total, Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman approved 14 counties to move into the next phase of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start plan.

The state said a total of five counties are in phase 1, one county is in a modified version of phase 1, 26 counties are in phase 2 and seven counties are in phase 3.

The latest statewide death toll as reported by the Department of Health had reached 1,149 deaths among 22,993 confirmed coronavirus cases as of 11:59 p.m. Thursday.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the counties with the highest totals: King County has 576 deaths among 8,371 cases; Snohomish County has 152 deaths among 3,014 cases; and Pierce County has 84 deaths among 2,007 cases.

Click here to see where other counties in the state stand.

Key coronavirus updates:

Information from local officials

Inslee expired the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order on May 31 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.

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. Click here for a complete breakdown.

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

The applications are reviewed by the Secretary of Health, who can approve the plans as submitted, approve with modifications or can deny the application.

Phase 1

  • High-risk populations: Continue to stay home, stay healthy.
  • Outdoor: Some outdoor recreation (hunting, fishing, golf, boating, hiking).
  • Gatherings: Religious organizations can now hold outdoor services with up to 100 people. Proper social distancing should be practiced and attendees should wear face coverings.
  • Travel: Only essential travel.
  • Business/Employers: Essential businesses open, including existing construction that meets agreed-upon criteria, landscaping, automobile sales, retail (curb-side pick-up orders only), car washes, pet walkers.

Phase 2

  • High-risk populations: Continue to stay home, stay healthy.
  • Outdoor: All outdoor recreation involving fewer than five people outside your household (camping, beaches, etc.)
  • Gatherings: Gather with no more than five people outside your household per week. Indoor religious gatherings can be held at 25% capacity or with less than 50 people, whichever is less.
  • Travel: Limited non-essential travel within proximity of your home.
  • Business/Employers: Remaining manufacturing, new construction, in-home/domestic services (nannies, housecleaning, etc.), retail (In-store purchases allowed with restrictions), real estate, professional services/office-based businesses (telework remains strongly encouraged), hair and nail salons/barbers, restaurants <50% capacity, with table sizes no larger than 5.

Phase 3

  • High-risk populations: Continue to stay home, stay healthy.
  • Outdoor: Outdoor group recreational sports activities (5-50 people), recreational facilities at <50% capacity (public pools, etc.).
  • Gatherings: Allow gatherings with no more than 50 people.
  • Travel: Resume non-essential travel.
  • Business/Employers: restaurants <75% capacity/table size no larger than 10, bars at <25% capacity, movie theaters at <50% capacity, government (telework remains strongly encouraged), libraries, museums, all other business activities not yet listed except for nightclubs and events with greater than 50 people.

Phase 4

  • High-risk populations: Resume public interactions, with physical distancing
  • Outdoor: Resume all recreational activity.
  • Gatherings: Allow gatherings >50 people.
  • Travel: Continue non-essential travel.
  • Business/Employers: Nightclubs, concert venues, large sporting events, resume unrestricted staffing of worksites, but continue to practice physical distancing and good hygiene.

The state is using certain metrics to evaluate when and how to lift various restrictions. The five metrics being used are: COVID 19 disease activity; testing capacity and availability; case and contact investigations; risk to vulnerable populations, and health care system readiness.

Information from the White House, federal officials

The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said Wednesday that he’s been wearing a face covering anytime he’s outside to protect himself and others and to set an example.

“I do it when I’m in public for the reasons that ... I want to protect myself and protect others and also because I want to make it be a symbol for people to see that that’s the kind of thing that we should be doing,” Fauci said during an interview on CNN.

Fauci noted that masks are “not 100% effective” at preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus, however, he said “It’s sort of (like showing) respect for another person and (having) that other person respect you.”

“You wear a mask, they wear a mask -- you protect each other,”he said.

How you can protect yourself and what to do if you think you were exposed

Symptoms of the coronavirus include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Patients reportedly have mild to severe respiratory illness. These are steps health officials recommend to protect yourself:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces.
  • Stay at home and away from others if you are feeling ill.
  • Washington State Department of Health: What to do if you have confirmed or suspected coronavirus disease
  • Washington State Department of Health: What to do if you were potentially exposed to someone with confirmed coronavirus disease
  • If you are in King County and believe you were exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19, or if you’re a healthcare provider with questions about COVID-19, contact:
  • For general concerns and questions about COVID-19, call the Washington State Novel Coronavirus Call Center at 800-525-0127 and press #.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.