Snohomish County leaders announce desire to move to Phase 2 of reopening plan
The decision will need to be approved by the Board of Health and the County Council
Last updated 5/28/2020 at 7:54pm
In a reversal from comments made just in the past week about the county not being able to reopen June 1 because of the current rate of new COVID-19 cases, Snohomish County officials today announced their intention to ask the governor to be allowed to move to Phase 2 of the reopening plan.
Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers, Board of Health Chair Stephanie Wright, and County Council Chair Nate Nehring announced their wishes in a joint statement.
"Snohomish County residents have paid a heavy price from the COVID-19 pandemic," said Executive Somers in a news release. "We will respond to the pandemic with everything we have and recover as quickly as we can. We now must move forward with our request to enter Phase II and help our people safely get back to work."
"The Snohomish Health District and its partners have succeeded in preserving the health and safety of thousands in Snohomish County," said Health Board Chair Wright. "It is now time for us to move into Phase II and re-start our economy. I will be proposing that the Board of Health consider a variance on Friday."
"It is critical that Snohomish County moves into Phase 2 so that we can begin to provide economic relief to our local businesses, workers, and families who are struggling," said County Council Chair Nehring. "I am proud to join my fellow county leaders in this joint proposal to move us in the right direction and support our local economy."
According to the news release, the county has enough PPE resources, testing, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine facilities, and hospital capacity to meet a potential surge.
The decision to apply for a variance from Gov. Jay Inslee's reopening plan, to allow the county to move to Phase 2, will need to be approved by the Snohomish Health District Board of Health and the Snohomish County Council. Both bodies have called for emergency special meetings on Friday to consider the proposal.
"If Snohomish County is allowed to move to Phase II and beyond, it will be important to avoid a spike in infections and the likelihood of reverting back to Phase I," the news release said. "COVID-19 will be a threat for some time, but Snohomish County is now better prepared to manage the threat."
"Governor Inslee has successfully led the state in flattening the curve, bringing our case counts down significantly, and maintaining the capacity of our health care system. He deserves credit for following the data and science, not politics. People are alive and healthy because of his persistence," Somers said in a separate statement later in the day. "Our residents have paid a high price from COVID-19, and we are making progress as a result of our residents’ discipline. We are ready to take the next step in the Safe Start plan, and I am hopeful that our application will be accepted by the Department of Health. Even if we are allowed to enter Phase II, we will still need to continue our social distancing, face covering, and hygiene precautions. The more we can keep up our healthy practices, the quicker we can move forward.”
This comes on the heels of county officials' warning that the county would not be able to ease restrictions by June 1.
Just last Friday, during a COVID-19 update from county officials on May 22, Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters said "So we're about three and a half times above where we need to be. And so as you can see, while we've made significant progress in flattening the curve and seeing the number of cases decline, and even in the past week or two we're down to, you know, maybe in the high teens, 15 to 20 cases per day over the course of the week, whereas we were at 25 to 30 two to three weeks ago. So things continue to get better, but we're still not there. And consequently, I just, I don't see us passing that line of 80 cases per 14 day period by the time we reach June 1."
Under Phase 2, certain businesses like housecleaning, hair and nail salons, pet groomers, real estate, and restaurants at 50% capacity of less would be allowed to reopen. Several counties in Washington have already been approved to move to Phase 2; they are mostly located in eastern Washington and on the Olympic Peninsula.
The Board of Health will meet tomorrow, Friday, May 29, at 10 a.m. to discuss the proposal. Its agenda and way to listen to the meeting from home are as follows:
SPECIAL BOARD OF HEALTH MEETING NOTICE - MAY 29
Friday, May 29, 2020, 10 a.m.
Zoom meeting remote participation information: https://zoom.us/j/98993918437
Dial In: 253-215-8782; Meeting ID: 989 9391 8437
1. Call to Order
2. Roll Call
3. Approval of Agenda Contents and Order
Approve Res. 20-16 authorizing submission of an application and request for a variance from the Washington State Department of Health to proceed to Phase 2 of the State’s reopening Washington plan (SR 20-047; S. Frederick)
The County Council will meet tomorrow, Friday, May 29, at 11:30 a.m. to discuss the proposal. The agenda and the way to listen in to the meeting from home are as follows:
Zoom meeting remote participation information: Attendees can participate remotely by clicking on the link or calling into the meeting with the phone numbers listed below.
Zoom Meeting Link: https://zoom.us/j/94348867073
Dial in: +1 253 215 8782 or +1 301 715 8592
Meeting ID: 943 4886 7073
1. Call to Order
2. Roll Call
3. Public Comment
4. Phase 2 Variance Application
Resolution No. 20-012, authorizing submission of an application and request for a variance from the Washington State Department of Health to proceed to Phase 2 of the State's reopening Washington plan