An announcement about which counties might be moving back a phase in the state’s reopening plan is expected Tuesday.
Word about where Washington’s 39 counties stand was pushed a day so state officials could fold in data from the weekend, said Mike Faulk, a spokesperson for Gov. Jay Inslee.
It is expected that a number of counties, including King, could revert to the second phase because of rising case counts and hospitalizations, two of the metrics used to determine a county’s place in the reopening plan. Any changes would take effect Friday.
To remain in the third phase, larger counties like King, Snohomish and Pierce need to average fewer than 200 new coronavirus cases for every 100,000 residents over 14 days and fewer than five hospitalizations for every 100,000 residents over seven days.
King County reports an average of 242.3 cases and 6.5 hospitalizations, according to the county dashboard.
More recent, but incomplete data, on Public Health – Seattle & King County’s dashboard shows trends could be improving, with 229.3 cases and 4.8 hospitalizations.
The trends since early March have been going in the wrong direction but during the past week the number of cases has slowed, Dr. Jeff Duchin, King County’s health officer, said during a Friday news briefing.
“It’s too soon to know if this indicates we are at a turning point in the surge,” he said.
The move back to Phase 2 reduces indoor capacity for businesses like restaurants, bars and gyms to 25% from 50%. Three weeks ago, Pierce, Cowlitz and Whitman counties were moved back to the second phase.
As King County faces the prospect of rolling back, local officials are attempting to make it easier for people to get vaccinated.
The city of Seattle has dropped the requirement for an appointment to receive a jab at its Lumen Field, Rainier Beach and West Seattle vaccination sites. The change goes for anybody seeking either their first or second dose of the two-shot vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer.
Increasing access to the vaccines for anyone 16 and older is needed to help slow the spread of the disease, Seattle fire Chief Harold Scoggins said in a press release.
“As we continue to see cases of COVID-19 in our region, it has become even more important to remove any barriers for accessing a vaccine,” he said.