All regions in Washington will remain in Phase 2, the most advanced of the two-step “Healthy Washington” reopening plan.
“We’re making this pause in recognition of the fact that we’ve made incredible progress knocking down the infection rate of Covid in the last several weeks,” governor Jay Inslee said during a February 24 media conference. “We know we need to follow the science and data in making these decisions but I think it’s clear we’ve had enough success in recent weeks to be able to put a pause on any regions that go backwards.”
Although regions wouldn’t move back into Phase 1, the governor didn’t say if a third phase would be created.
“During this weeks-long pause, we will evaluate the situation and work with our public health partners and stakeholders on how to continue going forward,” he said.
Inslee said he started the reopening plan because the state was struggling under very high Covid-19 numbers.
The announcement comes after the north region, which includes Whatcom County, and five other regions entered Phase 2, which allows for indoor dining at 25 percent capacity among other indoor openings, on February 14. This phase upgrade meant the entire state was in Phase 2 because the West and Puget Sound regions, which cover Seattle and Olympia, moved phases February 1.
The governor introduced the “Healthy Washington” plan that grouped counties into regions in early January. Regions could advance to Phase 2 if they met three of the four metrics: 10 percent decreasing trend in case rates per 100,000 people, 10 percent decrease in Covid-19 hospital admissions, ICU occupancy rates lower than 90 percent, and test positivity rates lower than 10 percent.
Since the governor’s announcement, the state stopped reporting phase change metrics, which was previously reported every two weeks. At the time of entering Phase 2, the north region met all four requirements to be in the phase.