Saturday, Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman approved variance applications for Cowlitz, Grant, Island, Jefferson, Mason, Pacific and San Juan counties to move into Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start plan.
The Mason County Commission and Mason County Board of Health approved resolutions Friday morning to apply for the variance which were submitted that afternoon. Mason County officials will be releasing more details soon. The County Commissioners will be discussion this approval during their briefings Tuesday.
A total of 21 counties have now been approved to move to Phase 2: Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Cowlitz, Ferry, Garfield, Grant, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Pacific, Pend Orielle, San Juan, Skamania, Spokane, Stevens, Wahkiakum and Whitman.
The following counties are eligible to apply for a variance to move to Phase 2: Clallam, Kitsap and Thurston.
Applications from Kittitas and Clark counties are on pause until further discussion next week due to outbreak investigations.
Businesses approved to move into Phase 2 must comply with all health and safety requirements outlined in the guidance to reopen.
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. The application process requires support from the local health officer, the local board of health, local hospitals, and the county commission/council.
Each county must demonstrate they have adequate local hospital bed capacity as well as adequate PPE supplies to keep health care workers safe. The application must include plans for:
- Making testing available and accessible to everyone in the county with symptoms.
- Staffing case investigations and contact tracing.
- Housing people in isolation or quarantine who can’t or don’t want to do so at home.
- Providing case management services to those in isolation and quarantine.
- Responding rapidly to outbreaks in congregate settings.
The variance requests are reviewed by the secretary of health, who can approve the plans as submitted, approve with modifications or deny the application. If circumstances change within the jurisdiction, the variance can be revoked.
Learn more about county variances and the statewide response to COVID-19 at coronavirus.wa.gov.