The reopening plan in Washington may soon hit a speed bump. As COVID cases rise across the state, many counties are in danger of falling back into Phase 2, which will mean indoor dining capacity is reduced from 50 percent to 25 percent indoors. King County still appears to be below the threshold and maintaining the status quo, though – at least for now.
According to Gov. Jay Inslee’s current reopening policy states COVID cases should remain below 200 per cent. 100,000 people during the previous period of two weeks and hospitalizations below 5 per. 100,000 people during the previous week for counties to remain in phase 3. If the number rises above these thresholds in both categories, then counties will move one phase back with certain economic activities limited, including more limited eating capacity. Metrics are evaluated every two weeks, and the next time the Washington Department of Health (DOH) assesses the data is Monday, April 1
Several counties in western Washington, such as Pierce, appear to be heading toward more restrictive phases due to the increase in cases and admissions. But right now, the two key figures that DOH is looking at have been within the Phase 3 area of King County. COVID cases have continued to rise around Seattle at an alarming rate in recent weeks, as County Health Officer Dr. Jeffrey Duchin attributed the presence of more infectious variants and an increase in transmission among adolescents. Local officials continue to keep an eye on rising prices with fear.
Vaccinations are likely to play the biggest role in ensuring that cases and admissions do not increase further, and in that regard, Seattle has seen some progress. This week, the city said it has received its largest allocation of COVID vaccines to date – about 30,000 doses – and King County’s vaccination tracking shows that about 1 in 4 adults has been fully inoculated so far. On Wednesday, April 7, the city opened early vaccine registration for all 16 or older – shots will be available to the larger group from April 15.