Coronavirus Chronicles

King County Can't Move to Phase 2 But Will Apply for Outdoor Dining

On Monday, the county will seek a modified stage one, with patio eating and haircuts, in the state's recovery plan.

By Benjamin Cassidy May 29, 2020

It’s something, at least.

On Friday, King County executive Dow Constantine announced that King County would apply to move into a modified version of its current stage in the state’s coronavirus pandemic recovery plan. The new “phase one” would include reopening restaurants for outdoor dining (at 50 percent capacity), as well as barbershops and salons (goodbye, quarantine hair). The change would also permit outdoor gatherings and recreation with five or fewer people outside the household. Good thing there’s some space between those crop circles.

“We are ready to continue safely, carefully reopening our economy,” Constantine said in a statement. “Our continued vigilance against the virus can help make this a one-way journey from lock-down back to prosperity, and I’m excited that folks will soon be able to support our local businesses by doing simple things like dining at an outdoor restaurant, getting a haircut, or shopping for a summer outfit.”

Why can’t we move to phase two? Per Jay Inslee’s presser earlier Friday afternoon, the governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order will end on Sunday, but a new proclamation will take its place, declaring that counties must now apply to Washington secretary of health John Wiesman to proceed with their economic recovery. Though any county still stuck in phase one can request tweaks to its current state as of Monday, Wiesman will use a stricter standard to determine who can proceed to phase two and beyond. Here are some numbers to monitor via the county’s key indicators data dashboard:

  • For every 100,000 people, counties must have less than 25 cases per day over a two-week span. The state had previously used 10 cases per day as the benchmark.
  • Hospitalizations for confirmed Covid-19 cases must be flat or decreasing.
  • The virus’s reproductive rate must be lower than one.
  • Ideally, fewer than 80 percent of hospital beds are occupied by patients, and fewer than 10 percent of a hospital's beds should be taken by those suffering from Covid-19.

Testing frequency, contact tracing, and preventing outbreaks among high-risk populations will also factor in to the state’s decision-making process. It will be a holistic approach; counties can fall short in one area but compensate for it with better performance in a different one.

Also of note: Inslee says workers are now required to wear face coverings, and employers must provide them with all necessary equipment. "A face covering is an expression of love," Inslee said.

Love for those around us. But also, patio season. 

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