Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

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By Bill Stevenson
Gazette Editor 

County rolled back to Phase 2 restrictions

One of three counties now in Phase 2

 

April 15, 2021

Three counties were set back to Phase 2 restrictions by the state.

State of Washington

Three counties were set back to Phase 2 restrictions by the state.

OLYMPIA — Whitman County was rolled back to COVID Phase 2 restrictions by Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday.

Whitman joins two others, Cowlitz and Pierce counties, set back because the number of new COVID cases did not meet the metrics set by the state.

"These are not punitive actions. They are to save lives and protect public health," Inslee said. "These metric trends are driven by the virus and we must continue to do everything we can to sharpen our focus and keep COVID-19 activity down. We are so close to the end of the tunnel here."

Whitman County failed both metrics for COVID cases and hospitalizations, according to the state. Under the old plan, a county only needed to fail one to roll back a phase.

Whitman County's population is 50,480 as of 2019, according to the state Office of Financial Management. The population places Whitman County in the "Large County" designation.

To be placed in Phase 2, the county must have 250-300 new COVID cases per 100,000 people in a 14-day period. For Phase 3, the county must have less than 200. To be rolled back to Phase 1, there must be more than 350 new cases, according to the state.

Whitman County had 412 new COVID cases per 100,000 when the last 14-day period ended on April 3, according to the state. During the previous 14-day period, the county had 208 new cases. The county's hospitalization rate was 5.9.

The spike of new COVID cases was attributed to Washington State University (WSU) in Pullman by Whitman County Public Health Director Chris Skidmore when he spoke to county commissioners on April 2. A gathering limit of 10 people was placed within Pullman as part of an emergency order issued by the health department.

"That would technically put us into Phase 1," Skidmore told the commissioners. "Though I don't know if the governor would drop us more than one phase."

The state evaluates the metrics again on May 3 to determine Whitman County's next phase.

Phase 2 means the following restrictions are in place:

SCHOOLS

• For K-12 school sporting activities, no concession sales are allowed.

• School graduation ceremonies may utilize Phase 3 Spectator Events guidance in Phase 2 if they operate under an event health and safety plan for the graduation ceremony.

RETAIL STORES,

RESTAURANTS

• Indoor dining is limited to 25% capacity.

• Retail shops may only allow the removal of masks or face coverings while eating or drinking in assigned seating.

• Lines for food and beverages must be marked to ensure 6 feet of distance between each person waiting in line.

• Lines for restrooms must be marked to ensure 6 feet a distance between each person waiting in line.

• All restrooms should be open to increased dispersion of users among restrooms facilities.

• Lines may not extend out into designated walkways in a way that compromises the minimal physical distance.

SPECTATOR EVENTS

• For indoor spectator events, the occupancy may not exceed 25% or 200 people, whichever is less

• For large venues of more than 100,000 square feet, the capacity is capped at 300 people.

• For outdoor spectator events, occupancy may not exceed 25 percent of seated capacity, or 200 people, whichever is less. Venues without permanent seating must provide 72 square feet per person.

• For very large venues of more than 2 acres in size, the capacity is capped at 300 people

• Spectator groups from 1-5 people are allowed in all facilities, but all spectators must maintain 6 feet of distance from other people.

• WSU sporting activities may utilize Phase 3 Spectator Events guidance in Phase 2 if they operate under an approved league or conference plan.

Author Bio

Bill Stevenson, Editor

Bill Stevenson is the editor of the Whitman County Gazette, Colfax Daily Bulletin and Franklin Connection. He has nearly 30 years of journalism experience covering news in Eastern Washington.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 5093974333
Twitter: @BillSte71925953
https://www.facebook.com/bill.stevenson.378
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