Inslee: 5 Washington counties can relax virus restrictions

There has been a “leveling out” of coronavirus risk between the five counties and the rest of the state.

Associated Press

OLYMPIA — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says five counties in central and eastern Washington still under the tightest COVID-19 restrictions will be allowed to resume more activity and open more services.

At a news conference Tuesday the governor said Yakima, Benton, Franklin, Douglas and Chelan counties will be moved from modified Phase 1 into Phase 2.

“They’re not out of the woods yet, we know that,” Inslee said. “But these counties and their people have made tremendous progress.”

Inslee has instituted a virus reopening plan under which counties move through four phases — with 1 the most restrictive and 4 being a full reopening. The five counties advanced today join 17 other counties that are already in Phase 2. Seventeen counties are in the third phase.

Authorities say there has been a “leveling out” of coronavirus risk between the five counties and the rest of the state since a pause in the reopening plan took effect in July.

Under Phase 2, counties are allowed to resume some adult and youth sports as well as outdoor recreation with more than 12 people. Also, more business activity will be OK’d, like movie theaters at limited capacity, restaurants with limited seating and indoor fitness centers with reduced numbers of people allowed.

There have been more than 93,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Washington since the start of the pandemic and more than 2,100 deaths.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks, though long-term affects are still unknown. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.

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