County applies for Phase 3 of reopening


Clark County is seeking state approval to further ease restrictions in place to stop the spread of COVID-19, with Public Health submitting an application to move into Phase 3 of “Safe Start Washington” on Friday.

Public Health submitted the application June 26 as it was the first day it could do so under “Safe Start Washington,” three weeks after the county was approved to move into Phase 2 on June 5.

Phase 3 allows for public recreation outdoors involving fewer than 50 people, as well as recreational facilities such as pools and gyms to operate at half capacity. The phase also allows for public gatherings of no more than 50 people, as well as the opening of libraries and museums. 

Theaters would be allowed to operate at half capacity, and customer-facing government services can resume under Phase 3. Restaurants will also have a higher capacity limit at 75 percent, and bar areas in restaurants and taverns can operate at 25-percent capacity.

“All other business activities not yet listed except for nightclubs and events with greater than 50 people” will also be able to operate under Phase 3, according to the “Safe Start Washington” plan.

As of Public Health’s announcement there was not a set timeframe for when it would see approval to move into Phase 3. Clark County faced a roadblock in getting to Phase 2 when its application was put on hold May 23 following the discovery of the first of two COVID-19 outbreaks at county businesses. Those outbreaks — the first at Firestone Pacific Foods in Vancouver and the second at Pacific Crest Building Supply in Ridgefield — saw more than 150 confirmed cases of the disease related to the outbreak among both places, according to Public Health data.

While Clark County looks to move into the next reopening phase the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county continue to climb. As of Public Health’s June 29 update there had been 826 confirmed cases since the outbreak began, up 68 from the number of cases as of Friday.

Public Health’s latest numbers showed a rate of newly-confirmed COVID-19 cases at 15.1 per 100,000 of population in the past two weeks. The department explained that having an incidence below 25 per 100,000 of population was one of the criteria for counties to move into Phase 3.

Clark County has maintained roughly the same proportion of COVID-19 cases confirmed in Washington State based on latest Department of Health numbers. That data showed Clark County had slightly more than 2 percent of total cases statewide, and about the same percentage of deaths.



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