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By Joseph Claypoole
Washington State Journal 

All counties eligible for Phase 3 starting March 22

Anyone in Tier 2 of Phase 1B is now eligible for a vaccine

 

Last updated 3/18/2021 at 2:22pm

New metrics will measure whether a county stays in Phase 3 or moves backward. They are more lenient, "not quite as tight of a turn," reflecting the "very different place" the state is now in in terms of its progress against the COVID-19 pandemic, said Lacy Fehrenbach, deputy secretary for the Department of Health's COVID-19 response. "We want to keep going forward together out of the pandemic, and our success hinges upon wearing masks, washing our hands, watching our distance, keeping social circles small - and of course, getting vaccinated when it's our turn. These are the things that will help us suppress COVID-19, which is the key to our continued forward progress towards recovery."

All counties are eligible for Phase 3 of Gov. Jay Inslee's Healthy Washington reopening plan on March 22.

Inslee made the announcement March 11 following a downward trend in COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations across the state over the past month.

"The reason we are able to make this progress is because we have been safe, we have been diligent and we have cared about our loved ones and ourselves," Inslee said.

The reopening of outdoor sporting events, increased vaccine eligibility, and economic improvements were the highlights of Inslee's press conference.

Outdoor venues are able to open at 25% capacity which includes major league sports like the Mariners and Sounders as well rodeos, motorsports and other outdoor events.

High school and youth sports are opening up to 25% capacity starting March 18.

However, Inslee said that all of these events are conditional on continued social distancing and mask protocols amongst attendees.

Restaurants, gyms and other indoor venues can increase to 50% capacity. The cutoff time for alcohol service is also being moved from 11 p.m. to midnight.

The state also make an adjustment to the January reopening plan that had switched to a regional approach, grouping several counties together for planning and progress in their approach. That will be moved back to a county-based system because of the feedback from local officials. Depending on population, counties will have benchmarks they must meet that will decide whether they progress, move back, or stay in their current phase.

Inslee also urged everyone to get vaccinated when it is their turn.

"If you were eligible for a vaccine, you are still eligible," Inslee said. "Please come get a vaccine."

The announcement was then made that anyone in tier two of phase 1B in the Vaccinate WA plan was immediately eligible for a vaccine.

Included in that tier are high-risk critical workers who work in certain congregate settings, agriculture, food processing, grocery store workers, and remaining first responders. Individuals 16 and older who are pregnant or have a disability that puts them at high risk for a severe COVID-19 illness are also eligible.

More information on vaccine eligibility and county reopening can be found at governor.wa.gov.

The Washington State Journal is a non-profit news website managed by the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation. Learn more at http://www.wastatejournal.org.

 

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