Health order restricting large gatherings implemented in Pullman as COVID cases rise

WHITMAN CO., Wash. — The Whitman County Department of Public Health has implemented a health order restricting large gatherings in the city of Pullman.

This comes amid rising COVID-19 case numbers tied to Washington State University. In late March, President Kirk Schulz issued a warning to students to stop gatherings and parties.

“With the better weather that we’re having now and I think some COVID fatigue is a factor, we’re just seeing more people gathering outdoors,” said Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins.

RELATED: WSU President to students about parties: ‘This needs to stop. Now.’ 

The order states outdoor social gatherings, that are not associated with weddings, funerals or religious services, shall be limited to no more than 10 people. Masks are required unless someone is physically unable or under the age of two, and six-foot social distancing must be maintained. The order also states that all other phase 3 requirements as set forth by the state will remain as is.

Under the state’s phase 3 guidelines, outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people from outside your household are allowed. Jenkins said enforcement was nearly impossible when the state moved into phase 3 and the order will help give them leverage to be able to address large gatherings in Pullman.

Jenkins said violators will first be educated about the order and further penalties could be possible if those people continue to gather. The university’s fraternities and sororities have frozen social gatherings.

“We ask them to not just think about themselves, but also think about the community and the impact to our community and also those who are most vulnerable who would be more severely impacted health-wise, as well,” Jenkins said.

In the past 10 days, 103 WSU students have tested positive for COVID-19. The county is seeing 379 cases per 100,000 people, putting them in the high activity category.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been nearly 4,000 COVID-19 cases and 46 deaths in Whitman County.

RELATED: Spokane County’s COVID number have hit a ‘plateau,’ but cases are rising among college students