Washington State Implementing Stricter Phase 3 Guidelines
One of the first states impacted by the coronavirus, Washington State had been an example for other states to follow. Governor Jay Inslee was early to jump on measures to slow the spread and flatten the curve. Most rural counties were poised to move into Phase 3, but Inslee has just announced new restrictions and guidelines as cases are on the rise again in those areas.
Yakima, an agricultural community with a large Hispanic population, has now become a hotspot, with the second largest number of cases in the state. The outbreak began in a fruit-packing plant, where workers stood elbow to elbow for hours without any protective equipment. Seattle has seen a spike as well, with restless younger people and college students believing they’re immune heading out to party with friends.
Governor Inslee has been a strong advocate of the Stay Home orders and mask mandates, and had been encouraged by early signs that Washington was beating the virus even as other states watched their numbers grow. Now he has concerns the state is more or less back to where it was in March, and the Governor now faces the decision on whether or not to return the state to full lockdown status. Inslee has not yet announced any specific school reopening plans.
The new Phase 3 restrictions include no gatherings of more than 10 people, with social distancing. Inslee has also modified Phase 2 and 1 guidelines; the counties still in those Phases may not gather in groups of more than 5, either indoors or outdoors. Masks are mandatory indoors and outdoors at all times for all counties in Washington State. In neighboring Oregon, Governor Kate Brown had already implemented similar restrictions.