Inslee wants state to reopen June 30

Governor Jay Inslee announced today a tentative statewide reopening date of June 30, and that until then, all counties will move to Phase 3 of the state’s Roadmap to Recovery reopening plan.

The announcement comes after the governor paused phase movement for two weeks to review an emerging flattening trend in statewide COVID-19 data. As of May 17, the plateau observed in COVID-19 activity has become a decline.

“What we know gives us the confidence to close this chapter in this pandemic and begin another,” Inslee said at a press conference. “This next part of our fight to save lives will focus on increasing vaccination rates and continuing to monitor variants (of COVID) as we move toward reopening our state.”

The full reopening could happen earlier than June 30 if 70 percent or more of Washingtonians over the age of 16 initiate vaccination. Washington has administered more than 6 million doses of vaccine, and 56 percent of Washingtonians have gotten at least one dose.

In the short-term, effective May 18, every county in the state will be in Phase 3, including counties currently in Phase 2. Most indoor activities will be permitted to operate at 50 percent capacity until June 30, when most public spaces would return to full capacity.

Inslee said the new plans don’t mean Washington’s state of emergency will end on June 30. It also doesn’t guarantee a full reopening if the state’s COVID-19 data changes. If the statewide ICU capacity at hospitals reaches 90 percent at any point, activities will be rolled back again.

The governor also announced that starting this fall, schools will be expected to offer full-time, in-person learning for all students and a remote-learning option. That plan comes on the heels of a decision by the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup to authorize the Pfizer vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds.

On May 13, Pierce County’s COVID-19 14-day case rate per 100,000 was 364, according to the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. Officials confirmed 198 new and 1 new death, the latter a Gig Harbor woman in her 80s.