State health officials: Spokane does not have to restart application to move to phase 2
OLYMPIA, Wash – Tuesday morning, Governor Jay Inslee gave Spokane and nine other counties the go-ahead to apply for a variance to his Safe Start plan. What wasn’t clear is when that can happen. But, after a call with state health officials Tuesday afternoon, it appears that process for Spokane County could move rather quickly.
Spokane County already submitted an application last week to move to phase two before the rest of the state. The detailed application had information about testing plans, contact tracing capabilities, hospital surge capacity and the number of overall cases. The state denied that application because, at the time, only counties with fewer than 75,000 people could apply for the variance.
While disappointed with that initial denial, Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward said she was hopeful Governor Inslee would lay out guidelines for larger counties this week, and thought it would be helpful that the county already had an application submitted.
It was not clear in conversations 4 News Now had with county officials Tuesday if Spokane would have to resubmit the application.
In the weekly briefing with the state’s Joint Information Center, state health officer Dr. Kathy Lofy said Spokane County will not have to start over. The state says Spokane County will simply be asked to update the information submitted last week.
Under the governor’s variance guidelines, counties can apply for the variance if they have less than 10 new cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day span. Under that criteria, 10 counties can apply, including Spokane and Adams counties in Eastern Washington.
22 counties are now eligible to move to phase two; combined, those counties make up 30% of the state.
In phase two of Governor Inslee’s plan, retail stores can reopen with restrictions, along with hair and nail salons. Restaurants and bars can reopen as well, but with no more than 50% capacity.
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