King County ready for phase 2 reopening
KING COUNTY, WA — Monday, the King County Council unanimously voted to approve Resolution 20-09, a resolution supporting King County’s application to enter Phase 2 of Gov. Inslee’s Safe Start plan. The move essentially finalizes the county’s Phase 2 application and means King County could end up approved for Phase 2 by the end of the week when the state Secretary of Health generally announces which counties have advanced.
Currently, King County is in a ‘modified Phase 1’ which has allowed some businesses to reopen their doors to customers, but with severe restrictions. Phase 2 would allow for a broader reopening of restaurants and taverns, in-store retail, salons, personal trainers, and more.
Under each phase, each returning industry is given unique safety guidelines they will need to follow to prevent further coronavirus transmissions. Those restrictions are then lessened with each subsequent phase. For example in Phase 2, restaurants can only serve tables of five or fewer guests and are limited to 50 percent of their normal total capacity.
Under modified Phase 1, restaurants have been limited to a quarter capacity. Retailers will also be allowed to let 30 percent of normal occupancy limit, up from the current limit of 15 percent capacity. In Phase 2 social distancing requirements will also remain in effect, but restrictions on nonessential travel will be loosened so that residents can travel to and from reopened businesses and outdoor recreational sites.
After the King County Board of Health has voted 10 – 0 to advance the resolution, it was passed to King County Executive Dow Constantine, who shortly afterward signed and delivered the application to the state Secretary of Health. The secretary now will review and either approve or deny the application.
“After two weeks in what has been called Phase 1.5, our case counts, health care system capacity and other metrics are holding steady, and we are ready to move to Phase 2,” said Constantine.
Judging from how quickly other large counties have had their applications processed, that means King County could be approved to enter Phase 2 by the end of the workweek. Earlier this month, Pierce County submitted their Phase 2 application on a Tuesday and had it granted by Wiesman the following Friday.
Applications to moving forward in the Safe Start plan require the full support of lawmakers and the county’s health care system. They also must meet a variety of key coronavirus growth metrics. According to the Washington Department of Health’s COVID-19 risk assessment dashboard, King County is meeting all the essential metrics of modified Phase 1
|New coronavirus cases per every 100,000 residents over the past two weeks||24.8||Fewer than 25|
|Number of people tested per each new case in the past week||57.2||50 or more|
|Percent of coronavirus tests coming back positive||1.7 percent||Less than 2 percent|
|Percent of hospital beds occupied||69.7 percent||Less than 80 percent|
|Percent of hospital beds occupied by coronavirus patients||2 percent||Less than 10 percent|
Currently, King is one of three modified Phase 1 counties alongside Chelan and Douglas, which share a health district and must move through the phases together. Only Benton, Franklin and Yakima counties remain in a full Phase 1.