On Friday, May 1st Governor Inslee, as expected, extended his Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. The extension runs through May 31st. It was issued on March 23rd had been set to expire on May 4th.
As of May 1st Washington State had 15,003 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (up 350 from the previous day) and 830 deaths. About 6,500 cases and 450 deaths were in King County. The governor has said the virus is on the decline, but warned they are trying to avoid a second spike, which he stated could happen if they open the economy and loosen restrictions too quickly.
Ten Washington counties will be allowed to apply for variances and reopen earlier. Those counties were described as having small populations and very low infection rates.
Inslee also announced his 4-phase reopening plan for Washington’s economy and modification of current social distancing measures. He said large gatherings would remain banned. The chart released by the governor’s office included a notation stating that phase 1 begins on May 5th.
The governor said there would be at least three weeks between each phase and all phases include physical distancing measures. As in previous press conferences, he said decisions when to move to a new phase would be ‘science and data driven.’
He said phase progression is subject to current COVID-19 virus and healthcare data and the ability to test more people and contact trace exposures.
The governor did not provide benchmark metrics that would trigger a phase change.
Inslee noted the state is currently testing about 4,000 people daily, but has the capacity to process 20,000 tests per day. It was announced on Thursday the federal government will be sending 500,000 testing swabs each month to Washington to help increase testing.
Low-risk, already underway construction projects were allowed to restart this week as long as social distancing and safety protocols were followed. Some elective surgeries will also restart. Some state parks and state-managed outdoor recreation areas will open on May 5th, allowing residents to begin hiking, boating, fishing and hunting with social distancing.
Inslee said the state expects to have safety protocol guidelines out to other businesses and organizations listed in phase 1 by mid May so that they can reopen.
Based on the Phase 1 May 5th start date released by the governor’s office – and with the minimum three weeks between phases – the best case scenario for the reopening of phase 2 businesses would be May 26th.
Some of those phase 2 businesses include remaining manufacturing, new construction, retail with in-store purchases allowed with restrictions, hair and nail salons, and restaurants at 50% of capacity with groups of 5 or less allowed. [See full list in chart below]
Best case scenario for phase 3 reopening would then be June 16th and include restaurants up to 75% capacity and no parties bigger than 10; bars at no more than 25% capacity; indoor gyms at up to 50% capacity; libraries and museums.
The best case scenario for Phase 4 would be July 7th and includes nightclubs, concert venues, large sporting events.
According to the governor’s office, “Ultimately, guidance from the state and the lifting of distancing restrictions is based on the ability to have appropriate health and safety protocols in place.”
Watch the full May 1st press conference HERE.
[Again, the above timeline is a best case scenario using the May 5th Phase 1 start date released by the governor’s office and he minimum three weeks between phases. Virus data and disease progression changes could extend the timeline.]