Clallam officials to talk modified Phase 2 request

Clallam County officials will consider today a modified request to move to Phase 2 of the state’s COVID-19 reopening plan.

Dr. Allison Unthank, Clallam County health officer, said she would recommend a Phase 2 variance with a caveat that overnight camping be restricted until the rest of the state moves to the second phase of Gov. Jay Inslee’s four-phase “Safe Start” plan.

The idea is to prevent an influx of tourists from the Puget Sound region, where COVID-19 is more widespread.

Unthank said she considered the wishes of area tribes in formulating her recommendation to the Clallam County Board of Health, which is expected to vote on a Phase 2 variance request in a special meeting at 11:30 a.m. today.

“One of the biggest things they were worried about was the activities that would bring tourists to town and, in particular, camping, because that brings tourists often quite close to their land,” Unthank said in a Tuesday interview.

“We know tourists are going to come anyway, but anything that we can do to limit that inflow I think is worthwhile, while still trying to open some businesses here.”

Phase 2 allows more businesses, including barber shops and nail salons, to reopen using state guidelines.

It includes manufacturing (non-essential repair, maritime industry and others), additional construction phases, in-home domestic services (nannies, housecleaning, etc.), professional services/office-based business (telework strongly encouraged), pet grooming (pre-existing customers), hair and nail salons/barbers (pre-existing customers, with no walk-ins).

Several rural counties in the state, including Jefferson, have moved to Phase 2.

In order to qualify for Phase 2, Clallam County must show that it has had no more than seven COVID-19 cases in two weeks and that Olympic Medical Center and Forks Community Hospital have adequate surge capacity to handle an expected rise in coronavirus cases.

Clallam County’s total cases remained at 25 on Tuesday.

“The Board of Health actually will have the opportunity to alter my recommendation,” Unthank said in a Tuesday interview.

“They can add to or change the recommendation, and theirs is actually the final decision about whether or not we go to Phase 2 in part or in whole.”

The Clallam County Board of Health meeting can be viewed at www.clallam.net/features/meetings.html.

The three Clallam County commissioners, all of whom serve on the Board of Health, are expected to ratify the Board of Health’s action in a special meeting at 1:30 p.m. today.

“We, as county commissioners, only have two options,” Commissioner Randy Johnson said in a Tuesday board meeting.

“We can either approve or disapprove what the Board of Health thinks. And those are our choices, period.”

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at rollikainen@peninsula dailynews.com.

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