Snohomish County is not yet ready to move to Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan. June 1 was a possible target date for that, but Snohomish County leaders admitted in a Friday briefing that we are not there.
Phase 2 of the Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Safe Start” program would reopen most businesses, including restaurants and taverns, hair and nail salons, retail in-store sales, in home/domestic services, pet grooming and some non-essential travel. It also would permit outdoor activities in “small groups.”
At the Friday Snohomish County press briefing on COVID-19, both County Executive Dave Somers and County Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters said the county is close, but has more to do before officials can apply for a reopening waiver or variance. Spitters said there is still hope that the county could apply “sometime in June.”
There has been significant progress in flattening the infection curve and the number of new cases reported each day is now down to the high teens, both men said, but Spitters told the briefing “we are still not there yet.”
Five things must happen to get to Phase 2:
- The level of coronavirus cases in long-term care facilities must average not more than two a week.
- County officials say they are making progress.
- Hospitals must have capacity to handle a 20% surge in new cases; continue daily reports to the state and have a 14-day supply of all PPE (personal protection gear).
- “We’re in good shape here,” said Spitters.
- Positive test numbers must continue to decline.
- The county will add 1,000-1,500 tests a week to the 2,500 currently being given to meet that goal.
- New cases must be reported within 24 hours and contact with those who also might have been exposed must happen within 48 hours.
- The county has 30 full-time contact tracers, but needs to add 90 more. New federal money will help add staff.
- The number of new cases must drop to an average of six per day.
- Latest numbers show an average of 22 new cases per day.
Spitters was reassured. “I do think we’re not far off but it will still take effort by community to suppress the transmission” of the virus to get into Phase 2, he concluded.
There is good news for the county’s small business and the aerospace sector. With new federal money now available from the federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act, the county has just launched two grant programs.
One is for small business only and applicants can receive up to $25,000. The second is for aerospace companies or Paine Field businesses, who can receive as much as $1 million.
Somers says it’s easy to fill out the application online “in a few minutes.” Here’s a link to both programs: workforcesnohomish.org.
— By Bob Throndsen