Whitman County is one of three Washington counties set to drop back into Phase Two of the state’s re-opening plan due to a surge in coronavirus cases.
Beginning Friday, Whitman, Cowlitz and Pierce counties will roll back to Phase 2, which means decreasing capacity for indoor dining at restaurants, retail stores and gyms from 50 percent to 25 percent.
Limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings are also reduced, though some sporting activities, including at the professional and college levels, can continue to operate under the higher Phase 3 limits if they have an approved plan.
Up until this week, all of Washington’s 39 counties had been in Phase 3. Initially, to stay in Phase 3, counties had to meet two metrics related to new cases and new hospitalizations.
But Governor Jay Inslee changed the criteria on Friday, saying that counties would only be moved back a phase if they failed two of the metrics. Previously they could be moved backward by failing to meet one.
Larger counties must have less than 200 new cases per 100,000 people over a two-week period and fewer than five new COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 people over a one-week period.
Smaller counties like Asotin and Garfield counties, must have fewer than 30 cases over a two-week period and fewer than three new COVID-19 hospitalizations over a one-week period. (Lewiston Tribune, Office of Washington Governor Jay Inslee)