OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee announced that a recent increase in COVID-19 numbers means counties won’t be able to move to the fourth phase of his reopening plan for now.
Inslee and state Secretary of Health John Wiesman made the announcement Saturday. A letter was sent to county leaders.
“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 reopen our economy, but we aren’t there yet. This is an evolving situation and we will continue to make decisions based on the data.”
Before Saturday, eight counties were eligible to move from the third to the fourth phase of the reopening plan. To qualify, counties had to show that they had declining infection levels, enough personal protective equipment, testing and hospital capacity and a contact tracing system.
“The best thing Washingtonians can do to slow the spread of the virus and save lives is to wear facial coverings, continue to maintain physical distancing and good hygiene practices,” Wiesman said. “Now that testing supplies are available, it is critical to get a test if you have any symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 or have been a close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
Washington has more than 31,700 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and has reported at least 1,310 deaths, according to the state Department of Health.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.