County Commission likely to pass resolution to send to Governor asking for Phase 2 variance Tuesday

While a new case of COVID-19 in Grays Harbor County is reviewed, the county Board of Health and Board of County Commissioners meetings scheduled for Monday to consider an application for a variance to move into the governor’s restart plan Phase 2 have been rescheduled for today.

“We don’t think it will cause a delay, (it’s) just a process,” said Commissioner Vickie Raines Monday morning.

The new case was reported Friday, bringing the total to 15 for the county, three this month. Public Health spokeswoman Brianne Probasco said Monday that the Friday case is still pending as a process is undertaken to confirm that the case is assigned to the right county. The assignment “depends on information we get at the time the case is reported and during the course of the investigation we can learn of new or updated information that can affect where it is assigned.”

Part of the qualifying requirements for the variance is for the county to have gone through a three-week stretch where no positive cases have been reported. There have been new cases in the past three weeks, but Raines said the county “surpassed our three week break in between cases” between the time the last case was reported in April and the three cases came in during the first part of May.

The Board of Health (which consists of the three county commissioners) will meet at noon Tuesday to review a county plan asking the state for a variance to move forward. After that, the same three commissioners will meet in a regular commission meeting at 1 p.m. to consider whether to make the application.

“Our plan is 40 pages long and we’ve worked tirelessly to get every single item in order. I want to be sure when it’s submitted it’s approved,” said Raines. The plan was submitted by Public Health Officer Dr. John Bausher, for review by the Board of Health.

The plan, if approved, and commissioners have indicated they are ready to do so, is sent on to the governor’s office for review and a decision. Applications by Kittitas and Mason counties to move ahead into Phase 2 were declined last week, said Raines.

“I’m hopeful we submit our application by 1:30 or so and could have a response from the state the same day,” said Raines.

Monday morning, Raines posted on her Facebook page, “We MUST move to Phase 2 as quickly and safely as possible. We must use common sense and move our County forward — NOW. We are ALL essential!

“Please know that I am working hard and being diligent in this effort for YOU and all of Grays Harbor. We desperately need our businesses opened and we can do so responsibly! We know Grays Harbor County is resilient, and we will bounce back, but we have to reopen NOW!”

Phase 2 includes opening up outdoor recreation involving fewer than five people outside your household, opening up restricted in-store retail sales, allowing for hair and nail salons to open, and restaurants can open with less than 50% capacity and tables that seat no more than five. Each activity contains its own list of requirements as drafted by the Governor’s Office.

There is one agenda action item for the Board of Health meeting at noon Tuesday: “County Variance Request from Stay Home, Stay Healthy Proclamation COVID-19; Moving from Phase 1 to Phase 2 – Consider approval of Resolution and adoption of Variance Plan to forward the County Commissioners for final action to forward to the State.”

The public can access the meeting via telephone, 1-253-215-8782.

The action resulting from the Board of Health meeting will be discussed at the 1 p.m. commission meeting for final action by the commissioners, according to the agenda. The public can join the Zoom meeting at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81040009783, meeting ID 810 4000 9783.

The resolution to be considered Tuesday notes that the requirements for applying for the variance include:

• Letters submitted by area hospitals certifying they have adequate bed capacity to serve their community and adequate PPE supplies to keep their workers safe;

• Submission of a plan identifying available and accessible COVID-19 testing within the county; the number of COVID-19 tests performed by week over the past three weeks; a plan from the Grays Harbor County Public Health Department stating resources available to perform case investigation and contact tracing; plans and resources to house people in isolation and quarantine; plans and resources to provide case management services to residents in quarantine and isolation; and plans to rapidly respond to outbreaks in congregate settings;

• Submission of a signed recommendation from the local public health officer to the local board of health.