Inslee announces three counties to rollback to Phase 2

Three counties failed to meet both Healthy Washington metrics required to stay in Phase 3

WA Governor’s Office
Apr 12 · 4 min read

Gov. Jay Inslee today announced the rollback of three counties not meeting the Phase 3 Healthy Washington metrics for reopening activities.

The three counties returning to Phase 2 are:

  • Cowlitz County
  • Pierce County
  • Whitman County

“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 — we have made tremendous progress and we must keep our focus,” Inslee said. “It’s like a football game; we have done 95 yards on a 99 yard-drive. We can’t let up now. These are not punitive actions; they are to save lives and protect public health.”

“Vaccine is a crucial tool that will help us end the pandemic, but it isn’t the only tool, and we don’t yet have enough Washingtonians fully vaccinated to rely on this alone to keep our communities safe from the virus,” said Lacy Fehrenbach, deputy secretary for COVID-19 response, Department of Health. “We need to focus on lowering disease transmission in the next several weeks ahead as we continue our vaccination efforts in order to avoid a fourth surge of cases. This means wearing masks, watching our distancing and keeping gatherings small and outdoors.”

Last Friday, the governor announced updates to the Healthy Washington criteria:

  1. In order to move down one phase, a county must fail both metrics for case counts and hospitalizations. Under the previous plan, a county only needed to fail one metric to move back a phase.
  2. The spectator events guidance is updated to make clear what is allowed for counties in Phase 2 and how these events are related to school graduation ceremonies. That guidance is available here.
  3. The Open Air Seating guidance is updated to allow flexibility for eating and drinking establishments. That guidance is available here.
  4. The next evaluation of counties will be in three weeks, on May 3.

On Thursday, April 15, all Washingtonians (16+) will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccines. Combined with sustained mask usage, physical distancing and adhering to reopening guidance, increasing vaccination rates in all counties will hopefully help in preventing a rise in COVID-19 case numbers.

Healthy Washington metrics: A refresher

New COVID-19 cases over 14 days

A case is defined as a Washington resident with a molecular or antigen test that is positive for COVID-19. Cases are assigned to the date a specimen was collected for testing, called the specimen collection date.

Case data come from the Washington Disease Reporting System (WDRS). The most recent eight days of case data are considered incomplete as it takes up to eight days for the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) to receive 90% of reported cases.

  • Case Count: New COVID-19 cases over 14 days are counted by identifying the number of cases with a specimen collection date in a 14-day period.
  • Case Rate: New COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population per 14 days is calculated by dividing the number of cases with a specimen collection date in a 14-day period by the county population and multiplying by 100,000.

New COVID-19 hospitalizations over seven days

A COVID-19 hospitalization is defined as a Washington resident with confirmed or probable COVID-19 diagnosis who is identified as having been hospitalized through either case investigation OR linkage with Rapid Health Information Network (RHINO) records.

Hospitalizations are assigned to the hospital admission date in WDRS. The most recent 11 days of hospitalization data are considered incomplete as it takes up to 11 days for DOH to receive 90% of reported hospitalizations.

  • Hospitalization count: New COVID-19 hospitalizations over seven days are counted by identifying the number of hospitalizations with a hospital admission date in a seven-day period
  • Hospitalization rate: New COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 population per seven days is calculated by dividing the number of hospitalizations with a hospital admission date in a seven-day period by the county population and multiplying by 100,000.

ICU bed occupancy over seven days

The statewide ICU bed occupancy is defined as the percent of staffed adult ICU beds in acute care hospitals in Washington that are occupied. ICU occupancy includes all patients in the ICU, not only patients with COVID-19.

The ICU bed occupancy is calculated by summing the occupancy over the seven-day period and dividing this by the sum of the seven-day capacity. The result is multiplied by 100. The data for this metric come from WA HEALTH. The most recent six days of data are considered incomplete as it takes up to six days for data collection, quality checks and reporting.

Read the full DOH report here.

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