Anacortes Mayor Laurie Gere spoke cautiously in her COVID-19 community briefing Wednesday, advising residents that while the state is moving toward the second phase of its reopening plan the threat from the deadly virus is still very real.
“Right now, there’s a total of 425 cases — which includes 247 recoveries, 50 hospitalizations and 15 deaths — in Skagit County,” she said. “What you do right now is important.”
She added, “We are on our way through Phase 1 of the governor’s recovery plan. We must stay strong. We are all exhausted and we’ve all been financially impacted. But if we stay the course in the short term, we will move toward the opportunity to get back to that sense of normalcy and recovery in the long term.”
Seemingly to emphasize the need to continue practicing social distancing and wearing protective gear, she ended her briefing by donning a red face mask.
Her briefing had some bright spots.
- Gov. Jay Inslee issued guidance this week for more businesses and services to resume. Medical and dental offices are now cleared to offer non-emergency services and Island Hospital is fully reopened.
- Phase 2 could begin in a couple of weeks, Gere said, with restaurants operating at 50% capacity, hair and nail salons reopened, retail stores offering in-store shopping, real estate offices and professional services reopened, and limited non-essential travel allowed.
- A full return to life as we knew it, albeit with physical distancing, is expected in July.
- Anacortes police officers have conducted birthday parades for children who cannot have a birthday party because of restrictions against gatherings.
- Anacortes Fire Department EMTs and paramedics don protective gear 10-12 times a day.
- The city has identified about $2.2 million in budget savings to offset revenue losses. Sales tax revenue from March was 36% below budget.
- 27 single-family residential construction permits have been issued this year to-date, compared to 12 during the same period last year.
- Roughly the same number of single-family remodel permits have been issued so far this year — 50, compared to 57 during the same period in 2019.
- Last week, the Planning Department received more than 100 phone calls.
- 17 applications have been submitted for the city’s Small Business Stabilization Grants. Applications are being accepted through May 29. Grants of $10,000 are available for businesses with up to 30 employees that have been affected by the pandemic.
Gere's next community briefing is scheduled for 4 p.m. May 27 on the city website and on Channel 10. The briefing will also be live-streamed on the city's YouTube channel.