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Aug. 7, 2020

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Clark County submits application for Phase 3 of Washington reopening

Department of Health expected to make decision with a couple of days

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:

Clark County submitted its application to move into the next phase of Washington’s COVID-19 recovery plan on Friday, the earliest it could apply.

The county remains in Phase 2. Entering Phase 3 would allow more businesses in the county to reopen and would lessen physical distancing restrictions.

Phase 3 is the penultimate phase in Washington’s recovery plan.

The state Department of Health will review the application, and approve or deny it within a couple of days, according to Clark County Public Health Officer Dr. Alan Melnick.

Once approved, Clark County will immediately operate under Phase 3 guidelines.

The Clark County Board of Health approved the application at its Wednesday meeting. Melnick has said that he’s comfortable with the county moving into Phase 3.

“I’m optimistic, given the metrics that we are seeing … that we can be approved by early next week,” Melnick said on Wednesday.

Phase 3 would allow for outdoor group sports activities with 50 people or fewer. Gyms and pools can also open at less than 50 percent capacity. Public gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed, which includes spiritual or religious services.

Libraries and museums can reopen in Phase 3. Movie theaters can reopen at less than 50 percent capacity, and people can resume nonessential travel. Restaurants and taverns can increase from 50 to 75 percent capacity, and bar areas in restaurants and taverns can hold 25 percent capacity.

Clark County’s application comes at a time when coronavirus cases are rapidly rising in Washington, Oregon and many other states. Clark County has seen a minimal rise in cases since entering Phase 2, which Melnick has said is somewhat concerning.

Yet, Clark County remains in good standing with most of the Phase 3 metrics the state wants counties to be in line with. The county has recently been testing at less than a 2 percent positive rate, and has been exceeding the target for number of weekly tests.

Hospital capacity remains in good shape.

Clark County’s rate of newly diagnosed cases per 100,000 population over the last two weeks dropped from 17 to 13.9 on Friday, most likely because a 32-case day in early June fell out of the 14-day window.

That’s well below the state’s target of fewer than 25 newly diagnosed cases per a 100,000 population over two weeks as part of Phase 3 applications.

On Friday, Clark County Public Health confirmed 17 new COVID-19 cases and no new deaths.

The county has 758 confirmed cases and 29 deaths. At least 12,089 people have been tested for coronavirus in Clark County.

There are nine people hospitalized for the virus in Clark County.

Face-coverings are now required in Washington in all indoor public places as well as outdoor public places where physical distancing guidelines can’t be met.

CRESA Emergency Management is distributing more than 216,000 cloth face coverings to low-income individuals and families, according to an agency news release.

Any agency or group working with people experiencing homelessness in Clark County and in need of face coverings can contact info@councilforthehomeless.org to make a request.

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