Stanwood area businesses — including barbershops, retail shops and restaurants — could reopen as early as this week, according to a new coronavirus recovery plan Gov. Jay Inslee announced Friday.
Snohomish County leaders passed a resolution Friday morning seeking the OK for the county to enter Phase 2 of the state's four-phase "Safe Start" reopening plan. County officials then submitted the more than 40-page request for a variance late Monday afternoon to the state Secretary of Health.
The document details the county's information regarding testing processes, data on reported positive tests, investigation protocols, isolation and quarantine facilities, and hospital preparedness. Secretary of Health John Wiesman said in a press conference Friday that approval could take a few days.
"I believe we have the metrics, partnerships and the internal partnerships to proceed into Phase 2 with reasonable confidence," Chris Spitters, Snohomish County Health District's chief officer, said during the online Board of Health meeting Friday.
Variance request to move Snohomish County into Phase 2 was officially submitted a few minutes ago. There are still a few steps left.— SnoHD (@SnoHD) June 2, 2020
For more details, and to view the final package, visit https://t.co/VTvJU6n8i8. pic.twitter.com/ZG5gXhpVtg
On Friday, Inslee announced a new proclamation, which replaces his emergency stay-at-home order that expired Monday. It allows counties to move to a "modified Phase 1" — allowing some elements reopening — or Phase 2 if they have fewer than 25 new confirmed cases per 100,000 people in a 14-day period in addition to an array of other public health criteria. Previously counties needed fewer than 10 new confirmed cases per 100,000 people.
“Under this new approach, counties will have more flexibility to demonstrate that they have the capability to stay on top of the virus,” Inslee said in the press conference.
Snohomish County is near the updated mark with 25.3 new confirmed cases per 100,000 residents during last week, down from 26.1 new confirmed cases per 100,000 residents the week prior, according to data released Monday afternoon from the Snohomish Health District.
The state so far has allowed 27 of the state's 39 counties to advance to Phase 2, including Island County.
Phase 2 would allow more businesses to reopen with restrictions. Restaurants could open at 50% capacity. Retailers that weren't considered essential under Inslee's "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order can resume in-store sales, but the shop will be limited to 15% of the building occupancy and indoor services limited to 30 minutes.
"If approved, this is not a back-to-normal step. This is a step in a series of steps on the path back to normalcy," Spitters said.
Inslee’s new directive also requires workers in Washington to wear facial coverings unless they don’t interact with others on the job. The requirement begins Monday, June 8. Employers must provide the needed materials to their employees. Face coverings aren't required to be worn by customers, but health officials strongly encourage people to wear masks.
“As we start to increases in travel, recreation and economic activity, it is critical that we remain diligent in order to avoid a sharp increase in exposure,” Inslee said.
After at least three weeks in Phase 2, counties can apply for Phase 3, which expands group gatherings to 50 or less, including sports activities, and allows restaurants to increase capacity to 75%. Gyms and movie theaters could reopen at half capacity, but nightclubs and entertainment venues must remain closed during this phase.
Most public interactions resume in the final phase, with bars, restaurants and entertainment and sporting venues returning to their regular capacity.
Other local COVID-19 news
• Camano Island recorded its first COVID-19 death, according to Island County Public Health. A 44-year-old woman died on May 20, according to the department. Camano has had 37 positive tests since March, but only one new confirmed case since April 16, which happened on May 7.
Island County Public Health also announced last week that more than 2,600 people were tested throughout the county from May 12-21. There were no positive results, officials said.
• Snohomish Health District announced last week it will continue drive-thru testing at two locations in north Snohomish County this week, including 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday outside the Stanwood Library at 9701 271st St. NW. Testing at the Stanwood site is for people with symptoms. Appointments are needed. Visit snohd.org/drive-thru-testing.
• Skagit County officials on Monday applied to move to Phase 2. The county's application comes as its COVID-19 numbers fell into the Phase 2 threshold, with six new positive cases within the last two weeks.
• Inslee announced Thursday another directive requiring long-term care facilities to offer COVID-19 testing to their residents and staff.
“To help in this effort, our state is going to be sending test kits and personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies” to every facility, Inslee said in a press conference Thursday.
• Inslee announced Wednesday that a new directive loosens restrictions for religious and faith-based organizations in Phase 1. Counties may now host up to 100 people for outdoor services. In Phase 2, they can host up to 25% of their capacity or 50 individuals, whichever is less, as well as conduct in-home services of five people.