Local health officials on Wednesday morning found themselves pondering their next moves after Gov. Jay Inslee announced his latest updates to the state’s reopening plan Tuesday afternoon.
The Governor’s “Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery” plan most notably limited the previous four phase Covid response program to two phases and lumped counties into one of eight specific regions divided according to available health care services such as hospitalizations, case data and disease mobility.
Grays Harbor and Pacific counties will be in the West Region, along with Lewis and Thurston counties. All counties will start in the more restrictive Phase 1 of the two-tier plan once the program begins on Monday.
When asked how this may impact the local health care community that has been at the frontline of the fight against COVID-19, health officials working in the communications arena said they are in the same boat as the rest of the community they serve. “We’re working on figuring out what this is going to look like,” Grays Harbor Public Health spokesman Nick Falley said. “We learned about this last night just like everyone else.”
Same goes for Grays Harbor Community Hospital Public Information Officer Chris Majors, who said hospital officials were planning to meet with county health officials Wednesday afternoon to discuss the governor’s latest action and figure out where they go from there.
Majors did offer current data regarding the county’s Phase 1A vaccination program, which has administered 378 of the total 975 doses through Tuesday with another 60 expected on Wednesday. GHCH will begin the second round of vaccine administration on Sunday and is expected to receive a second shipment of 975 doses from Pfizer sometime this week.
GHCH is also making drive-through vaccinations available this week for up to 90 persons per day.
One of the points health officials plan to address is how local COVID-19 data will be reported on the county health department’s website. As of Monday, the county website that reports COVID-19 data (healthygh.org/directory/covid19/casecount) began to include maps and data seen on the state health department’s risk assessment dashboard. With the bulk of the COVID-19 data on that dashboard being reported by the county, there is uncertainty among local health officials as to if and how future reporting will be updated to reflect the Governor’s new guidelines.
“It looks like all the metrics they are using are the ones from the risk assessment dashboard. … We don’t know at this point if they are still going to use that risk assessment dashboard or if they are going to create another one based on these regions,” Falley said before adding he’d like to release information on a more frequent basis. “If this is something that we can report out, I want to put a place on our website where we can update those numbers daily so it’s not a question every Friday of are we going backward, forward, or staying the same. … I would like that we would have a pulse on it so there are no surprises.”
The Grays Harbor County Public Health COVID-19 Incident Management Team will be operating a community based COVID-19 testing site at Olympic Stadium in Hoquiam throughout the month of January.
Beginning Thursday, Jan. 7, testing will be each Thursday in January from 1-6 p.m. and each Friday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Testing will also be offered on two weekends: Jan. 9-10, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., and Jan. 30-31, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
Roadmap to Recovery
The Governor’s roadmap consists of two phases with different parameters in each. Phase 1, which Grays Harbor and Pacific counties are likely to be in once the final metrics for the regions are calculated on Friday, requires four metrics to be met to move into the less restrictive Phase 2.
To move to Phase 2, a region much meet all of the following:Decreasing trend in two-week rate of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population (decrease greater than 10%)
Decreasing trend in two-week rate new COVID-19 hospital admission rates per 100,000 population (decrease greater than 10%)
ICU occupancy (total — COVID-19 and non-COVID-19) of less than 90%
COVID-19 test positivity rate of less than 10%
Once in Phase 2, regions must continue decreasing or flattening trends in the same measures.
According to the roadmap, many businesses and services are capped regardless of which phase the region is currently in. For example, church services, retail stores, professional and personal services are capped at 25% maximum capacity regardless of Phase 1 or 2 region status.
Of the activities that show changes between the two phases, most glaringly, the governor’s office is prohibiting indoor “social and at-home gathering size” in Phase 1 regions, relaxing the prohibition to a five person maximum from individuals outside the household (limit two households) when in Phase 2.
Indoor dining is prohibited for eating and drinking establishments in Phase 1, though outdoor dining is available until 11 p.m. with a maximum of six per table (limit two households). Indoor dining will be allowed at a 25% maximum capacity in Phase 2.
Weddings and funerals are limited to no more than 30 people in Phase 1 with indoor receptions, wakes and/or “similar gatherings in conjunction with such ceremonies are prohibited.”
Indoor entertainment establishments — including movie theaters, museums and bowling alleys — are limited to private rentals/tours for individual households of no more than six persons with general admission prohibited. In Phase 2, those establishments are allowed 25% maximum capacity.
Recreational and fitness establishments, which include gyms, martial-arts studios and K-12 school sports, have similar restrictions. In Phase 1, only indoor low-risk, non-contact sports are permitted for practice and training in “stable groups of no more than five athletes, with limits of no more than one appointment-based fitness/training session (45 minutes max) per room or 500 square feet for larger facilities.
Low and moderate risk outdoor sports are permitted for practice and training in Phase 1, with competition only being allowed for low, moderate and high-risk sports in Phase 2 (max 200 spectators). No tournaments are allowed in either phase, putting potential postseason championship tournaments in doubt for prep and college sports.
The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association Executive Board was set to meet Tuesday to discuss the updated reopening plan, with the possibility of deciding the future of the 2021 high school sports season.
For further information regarding the Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery, visit medium.com/wagovernor/inslee-announces-healthy-washington-roadmap-to-recovery-229b880a6859.