Washington state’s secretary of health has approved 24 of Washington’s 39 counties to move on to phase 2 of governor Jay Inslee’s four-phase “Safe Start” re-opening plan. Whatcom County has not yet been eligible to apply to move on to phase 2, according to the state’s criteria.
The second phase allows gatherings of up to five people who don’t live together and limited non-essential travel. Retail stores can allow customers in, with restrictions; real estate can resume, nail salons and barbers can re-open, and restaurants can re-open with less than 50 percent capacity.
Governor Inslee’s stay-at-home order, which he issued March 23 and has extended twice, expires on May 31. The governor said in a May 22 press release
that not all counties would be able to move on to phase 2 on June 1.
Before Whatcom County can apply to move on to phase 2, the number of new infections in the county must average less than 10 per 100,000 residents over a 14-day period, or 22.5 cases per 14 days.
In the two-week period from May 10 to May 23, 23 people in Whatcom County with confirmed cases became sick with Covid-19, according to the Washington State Department of Health. Since May 23, however, the county health department has reported 13 new cases of the virus.
The application process requires support from the local health officer, the local board of health, local hospitals, and the county commission/council. It also requires adequate ability to test for the virus and to trace contacts and isolate those who are infected.
To date, Whatcom County has had 382 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, and 33 have died from the illness.
In Washington state, 1,078 have died from Covid-19 and the U.S. death toll is approximately 100,000.