By The Associated Press
OLYMPIA — Three more counties in Washington state have been approved to move into Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s plan to ease out of coronavirus restrictions.
Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman on Wednesday approved applications for Kittitas, Thurston and Walla Walla counties.
A total of 24 counties have now been approved to move to Phase 2: Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Cowlitz, Ferry, Garfield, Grant, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, Kittitas, Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Pacific, Pend Orielle, San Juan, Skamania, Spokane, Stevens, Thurston, Wahkiakum, Walla Walla and Whitman.
To apply for a variance, counties must have an average of less than 10 new cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day period.
Each county must also demonstrate they have adequate local hospital bed capacity as well as adequate PPE supplies to keep health care workers safe.
In Washington state, more than 20,100 people have tested positive for COVID-19, and at least 1,078 have died.
In Yakima County, at least 91 people have died.
That’s the third-highest death count per county in the state, behind King and Snohomish counties.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks.
For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.