New restrictions on King County restaurants go into effect on July 30th after Governor Inslee announced more changes to the state’s Safe Start reopening phase rules.
The new restaurant restrictions are for counties in phase 2 and 3. King County entered phase 2 on June 19th.
According to the Governor Inslee, the changes target activities that data has shown provide a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure.
State health officials previously stated contract tracing has attributed many of the new cases to social gatherings between friends and family.
Under the new rules, restaurants in phase 2 counties can only seat parties indoors if they reside in the same household. No guidance was mentioned, though, regarding how restaurants should enforce the rule. Restaurants also cannot serve alcohol past 10PM under the new rules.
During a Thursday press conference, Governor Insee referred to dining indoors with people from outside your household as ‘the most dangerous 3-feet in the state right now.’
The state also changed rules for weddings and funerals, gyms and fitness centers, as well as for entertainment and rec centers. See all changes HERE.
According to the governor’s office, since the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order was issued on March 23rd, COVID-19 cases in Washington have risen from 2,000 to just over 50,000 and deaths increased from 110 to nearly 1,500.
King County COVID-19 DATA
King County – home to 30% of Washington’s population – accounts for roughly 28% of those cases and 43% of deaths. In King County, 14% of cases and 65% of deaths are related to outbreaks at longterm care facilities.
In King County, the recent rise in cases is partially attributed to expanded testing. The King County 7-day rolling test average was around 1,700 during the peak of the outbreak in early spring. By July 20th, that 7-day test average was 4,800 – a 180% testing increase.
In early April the 7-day rolling average for positive tests stood at 195. On July 20th that 7-day rolling positive test average was 169 – a 13% decrease.
[It should be noted this is not an apples-to-apples comparison as testing supplies were limited in early spring. Thus testing criteria was stricter. King County likely had more cases than results indicated. Testing began to ramp up in mid June.]
COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in King County – which generally lag positive tests by weeks – have decreased since the spring peak when the 7-day rolling average for hospitalizations and deaths were 44 and 13.
On July 17th (used as most recent data is incomplete per the King County COVID-19 dashboard), the 7-day rolling average for hospitalizations and deaths had decreased to approximately 4 and 1. Last week, though, King County DOH said it was starting to see a slight increase in hospitalizations.
Many King County School Districts Changing Course from Hybrid to All Remote Learning in Fall
This week, many large school districts in King County announced they will start the school year remotely. This was a change from earlier this month when many of these districts indicated they would start with a hybrid in-person/remote learning model
The change in direction came after many superintendents met with King County Public Health officials to discuss countywide virus spread.
King County Public Public Health issued support for these districts saying, “Given the current levels of transmission in the community, Public Health recognizes it would be very challenging for schools to re-open. A recent modeling report using King County data highlights that how well COVID-19 is controlled in the community directly impacts whether schools can re-open with less risk of disease transmission for students and staff.”
The Washington State Teachers Union (WEA) also recently called on the the governor to declare that schools open remotely in the fall.
The Snoqualmie Valley School District has not announced that it will follow suit and open entirely remote. The rural Snoqualmie Valley currently has a lower positive COVID-19 test rate than many more populous areas of King County.
SVSD Superintendent Rob Manahan said the district would announce its decision on July 31st.
See SVSD’s Preliminary Fall Reopening Plan announced on July 8th
King County Total COVID-19 Tests
King County Positive COVID-19 Tests
King County COVID-19 Hospitalizations
[** Graphs above reflect King County data as of July 23rd **]