All Washington counties move to Phase 3 reopening

The Associated Press

SEATTLE — Four counties that had been in a more restrictive second phase of Washington state’s current COVID-19 reopening plan have joined the 35 other counties in Phase 3.

Cowlitz, Ferry, Pierce and Whitman counties, which were previously in Phase 2, were moved to Phase 3 Tuesday. In Phase 3, restaurants, bars and gyms can operate at 50 percent indoor capacity.

The decision last week to move all counties to Phase 3 and announce the tentative June 30 full reopening plan comes amid declining COVID-19 case counts and a push to increase vaccination rates, Gov. Jay Inslee and health officials have said.

State Secretary of Health Umair A. Shah said in a statement Tuesday that about 59 percent of Washingtonians age 16 and up have now received a first vaccine dose. When that number reaches 70 percent, officials have said the economy can fully reopen.

“We are happy to see the beginning of declining disease activity in Washington and more people getting vaccinated,” said Shah. “However, we need to continue to focus on our vaccination efforts.”

State health officials have said if statewide ICU capacity reaches 90 percent at any point, phase rollbacks could happen again.

“With vaccine now available to kids 12 and older, we have an opportunity to protect Washington’s youth before summer,” Lacy Fehrenbach, Deputy Secretary for the COVID-19 Response, said in the statement.

Additionally Tuesday, the state Department of Health reported 676 new COVID-19 cases and 13 more deaths, according to The Seattle Times. The update increases Washington state’s totals to more than 424,000 cases and 5,653 deaths since the pandemic began.

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