Whitman County’s Public Health Director says that unless the recent trend changes the county will likely move back to heavier restrictions under Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s reopening plan.
Under the current phased reopening plan mandated by Governor Inslee counties must meet 2 metrics to remain under his phase 3 restrictions. The current phase that is in place across the state allows business to be open up to 50% capacity. The state will check counties compliance with the governor’s metrics on April 12th.
The metric that Whitman County has been missing in recent weeks is the coronavirus activity level. The governor is mandating that counties have under new 200 cases per 100,000 people for 2 weeks to remain in phase 3. Whitman County’s current coronavirus activity level is at 379 per 100,000 people. Whitman County has just over 50,000. So, the target is to keep new coronavirus cases in Whitman County under 100 this week and next week. That goal seems less likely with the increase in cases among Washington State University students. Over the weekend alone 67 WSU students were diagnosed with coronavirus which accounts for most of the 73 cases recently confirmed countywide.
Whitman County Public Health Director Chris Skidmore says unless the trend changes it’s likely that pandemic restrictions will get tightened on local businesses. You can listen to his comments by clicking on the audio file below.
If Whitman County was moved by the state back to phase 2 it would reduce capacity for businesses to 25%.
You can listen to our entire interview with Skidmore on the Wednesday Morning News on Newstalk for the Palouse 1150 AM at 6:30 and 8:30.