Inslee declares two-week pause on state reopening plan, keeping Skagit County in Phase 3

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Brandon Stone, Skagit Valley Herald, Mount Vernon, Wash.
·2 min read
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May 4—Gov. Jay Inslee announced Tuesday a two-week pause in the state's COVID-19 reopening plan, a move that allows Skagit County and 12 other counties to remain in their current phase.

In a briefing Tuesday, Inslee said the state will take the next two weeks to continue to review data. While new cases and hospitalizations have been increasing statewide in recent weeks, he said health officials have observed a possible plateau over the past several days.

"We are in a constantly evolving situation," Inslee said, adding more will be known in two weeks about a possible leveling off.

At that time, Skagit County will have had to report fewer than 200 new cases per 100,000 residents in a 14-day period, and have fewer than five hospitalizations per 100,000 residents in a seven-day period to remain in Phase 3.

County Health Officer Howard Leibrand said he's seen the plateau in cases locally, but said it isn't unusual to see brief blips in the data.

"We should use the pause wisely," he said. "Get vaccinated if you're not. Get your second dose if it's time."

Vaccines are free and are effective against all common variants of the virus, he said. Information on appointments is available at vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov.

Phase 3 of the state plan allows for 50% occupancy at restaurants, retail stores, gyms and most other businesses.

Indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people, and up to 50 people are allowed to gather outside.

Leibrand said activities permitted in Phase 3 can be done safely by continuing to be diligent in masking and social distancing.

New cases in Skagit County have been increasing weekly since the beginning of April, and are the highest they've been since late January, according to data posted on the county website.

According to state data, the county reported a rate of 267.5 new cases per 100,000 residents, and a rate of 9.2 new hospitalizations per 100,000, far exceeding the goals outlined in the state plan.

Of those hospitalized in Skagit County, Leibrand said none have been vaccinated.

While vaccination has become the primary focus lately of providers, Leibrand said testing is still an important tool — especially with the level of infection seen in the county.

A positive COVID-19 test tells the person being tested to quarantine, which severely limits the number of people they can infect, he said.

Rapid testing is available at most pharmacies. A full list of providers is available at skagitcounty.net/coronavirus.

— Reporter Brandon Stone: bstone@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2112, Twitter: @Brandon_SVH