Twenty-one of Washington’s 39 counties have now been approved to move into the second stage of Gov. Jay Inslee’s four-phase coronavirus recovery plan following the governor’s expansion of criteria this week that allowed more counties to apply for reopening.
The second phase of recovery allows several kinds of businesses, including hair salons and restaurants, to welcome back customers two months after Inslee’s stay-at-home order went into effect, albeit with some with restrictions.
As of this week, counties that have fewer than 10 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over the span of 14 days were allowed to apply for reopening with the Department of Health (DOH). To be approved for Phase 2, counties must also demonstrate that their hospitals are prepared to handle a return of the disease.
Ten smaller counties had been approved to reopen earlier this month. By Saturday, DOH had approved 11 more: Adams, Cowlitz, Grant, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, San Juan and Spokane counties.
Together, the counties approved to reopen represent about 17% of the state’s population. But the state three most populous counties, King, Pierce and Snohomish, are far from reopening, as are Yakima, Benton and Franklin counties.
Clallam, Kitsap and Thurston counties are eligible to apply to move to the second phase of recovery, according to the state, though applications from Kittitas and Clark counties are on hold while outbreaks are investigated.