Department of Health puts pause on counties moving to phase 4 in light of rising coronavirus cases

Department of Health puts pause on counties moving to phase 4 in light of rising coronavirus cases

Gov. Jay Inslee announced Saturday that the Department of Health has paused all counties from moving onto phase 4 of the “Safe Start” plan.

“Phase 4 would mean a return to normal activity and we can’t do that now due to the continued rise in cases across the state,” Inslee said. “We all want to get back to doing all the things we love in Washington during the summer, and fully open our economy, but we aren’t there yet.

Eight counties were eligible to move onto phase 4 before the announcement.

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The pause comes in light of a continued rise in coronavirus cases around the state. Phase 4 would mean essentially no restrictions, which Inslee says is impossible at this time.

Secretary of Health John Wiesman sent a letter to local and tribal health leaders Saturday:

“We decided to prohibit any counties from moving into phase 4 at this time due to increasing COVID-19 activity across the state and significant rebounds in COVID-19 activity in several other states. The changes between Phase 3 and Phase 4, especially with regards to gathering size and occupancy rates, could further increase the spread of COVID-19 in our state, even in communities that have very low rates of disease. The progress we’ve made thus far is at risk, therefore we are making the prudent choice to slow down our phased approach to reopening.”