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Snohomish County applies for Phase 2 status

Series: Coronavirus | Story 106

Last updated 6/5/2020 at 11:45am

Snohomish County officials applied for a variance from the governor’s reopening plan to allow the county to move to Phase 2, which would allow many businesses to reopen, on Monday, June 1.

The county’s Board of Health and County Council both unanimously approved the variance proposal May 29, just a day after county officials had announced their desire to move to Phase 2.

“I’d like to express deep gratitude to the staff and county leaders who have spent long hours preparing the materials needed for this thoughtful and comprehensive proposal,” said Stephanie Wright, Chair of the Board of Health and Vice Chair of the County Council, in a statement from the county.

“I am also most appreciative of the mayors, hospitals, and other partners who jumped in quickly to provide their letters of support to include in this package.”

“COVID-19 has had varying impacts on different parts of our state, and we realize that county borders don’t prevent its spread,” said County Executive Dave Somers. “I want to thank Governor Inslee for working in collaboration with us on how larger counties can safely begin to reopen. I look forward to submitting our request and continuing to focus our efforts on the health and wellbeing of our residents and businesses.”

The governor has made some changes to requirements for counties to move between reopening phases. One significant change in Snohomish County’s favor is increasing the incidence of case counts from 10 to 25 new cases per 100,000 in a 14-day period.

The Snohomish Health District calculates its rates based on CDC weeks, which are Sunday through Saturday. It is anticipated that a recent downward trend in new cases this week will reflect an incidence rate well within the new threshold for Phase 2.

“Upon our initial review, the revised benchmarks would seem to further indicate that Snohomish County is ready to move forward to the next phase,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, health officer for the Snohomish Health District.

“We look forward to reviewing Secretary Wiesman’s revised guidance further and for requesting a variance as soon as it becomes available to us and then updating and submitting our updated application on Monday.”

However, until the state Secretary of Health approves Snohomish County’s variance, the entire county will stay in Phase 1.

In Phase 2, general guidelines include:

• Gatherings with no more than 5 people from outside your household per week, including outdoor recreation like camping, hiking, or beach trips;

• High-risk populations should stay home – such as people older than 60, those with underlying health conditions, or pregnant women except for essential trips (i.e. grocery shopping, necessary health care visits);

• Restaurants will be allowed to reopen with less than 50% of normal capacity and no bar-area seating will be allowed or tables of more than five customers;

• Working from home is still encouraged. Allowing more businesses and activities to reopen does not mean that it will be business as usual.

There are guidelines that employers will need to follow through all of the phases. A brief overview is below, but more is outlined in the Safe Start Plan. Guidelines for businesses

• Limit close interactions with customers. Arrange for six-foot physical distance between employees and patrons and use other measures, such as barriers to block sneezes and coughs, if distancing isn’t realistic for specific tasks;

• Ensure sanitation and hand hygiene are available to all workers and visitors;

• Frequently clean and disinfect the workspace, especially high-touch surfaces;

• Follow Labor and Industries (L&I) and industry-specific guidance regarding personal protective equipment or cloth face covers for workers;

• Encourage clients and customers to wear cloth face covers;

• Make a plan for addressing illness, including requiring ill employees to stay home and deep cleaning if an employee tests positive for COVID-19

• Provide information to employees about COVID-19 and illness prevention. This could include signs or posters with information; •

Follow any additional guidance that is specific to your industry, as provided by local, state or federal public health professionals.


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