* This story was updated at 8 a.m. Friday to reflect that Phase 2 begins for Skagit County on Sunday
Skagit County will advance Sunday to the next phase of the state’s plan to reopen businesses, as the rates of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations fall statewide.
At a news conference Thursday, Gov. Jay Inslee announced five regions of the state will be allowed to move into Phase 2 of his Healthy Washington reopening plan.
Phase 2 allows for indoor dining at 25% of a restaurant’s capacity. Similarly, restrictions on gyms and entertainment establishments are relaxed, with each allowing 25% capacity indoors.
The plan groups counties into eight regions. As of Sunday, seven regions will be in Phase 2 — 92% of the state’s population.
Inslee also announced Thursday another $87 million in COVID-19 relief to be split evenly between rental assistance and aid for businesses.
In the North Region — Skagit, Whatcom, Island and San Juan counties — new COVID-19 cases fell by 32% over the 14 days from Jan. 17 to Jan. 30, and new hospitalizations decreased by 17% in the 14 days from Jan. 24 to Feb. 6, according to state data.
In the previous update two weeks ago, new COVID-19 cases in the region increased by 69%, while new hospitalizations increased by 19%.
Data used is the most recent that the state Department of Health is able to verify.
According to the plan, regions need to meet three of four metrics. Cases and hospitalizations must each fall by at least 10%, ICU occupancy must be less than 90% and the positive test rate must be below 10%
In the North Region, ICU occupancy is at 53% and the positive test rate is 6%, meaning the region meets all four metrics.
If the trend reverses and COVID-19 infections increase, regions will be sent back to Phase 1. Metrics are evaluated every two weeks.