SPOKANE, Wash. — On Monday, the state of Washington begins Phase 1 of it's new reopening plan, Healthy Washington.
All regions of the state begin Phase 1, which does lift some restrictions on gyms. However, many of the restrictions passed down last November will remain in place until regions can make it to Phase 2 of the reopening plan.
In order to move to Phase 2, regions need to have the following:
- 10% decreasing trend in case rates
- 10% decrease in coronavirus hospital admission rates
- ICU occupancy that’s less than 90%
- Test positivity rate that’s less than 10%
Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward joined Up with KREM to share her thoughts on the state's new plan.
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Q: When we talk about this new reopening plan, some restrictions will be lifted for restaurants and fitness centers. Do you feel it's safe to resume indoor dining in some cases and in fitness centers?
Woodward: "I don't think anyone is moving forward so that unfortunately was a disappointing note that we learned on Friday. Spokane and the region that we are now in, the Eastern Washington Medical region which includes eight other counties, we really need to do our work to meet all the metrics that the state has laid out, that regions have to meet to get from phase to phase. As you mentioned the requirements and the metrics just a minute ago, we are meeting half of them right now.
"Our ICU capacity has always been pretty secure but we need to get the positivity down on our rates. We're at 17%, we've been higher before so we have decreased that but we need to get it down to that less than 10 percent. And our hospitalizations have increased somewhat so that's hurting us right now. But when we look at the other counties that are in our medical region, they're smaller, they have less population, fewer cases, so I think when we average those out, that will benefit Spokane County, may not benefit those smaller counties that are in our region now."
Q: Do you think there's going to be any problems for eastern Washington reopening together? Do you think that will impact Spokane and vice versa do you think Spokane's rates will impact reopening for those smaller counties?
Woodward: "I do. Looking at all of the counties for the medical region that we are in will benefit Spokane likely more than it will benefit the smaller counties. But I do look forward to reaching out to the elected [officials] in those counties. The mayors in Spokane County have been meeting regularly during our response to COVID, but we need to branch that out now to include those other counties as well and really work together as a group so we can really communicate and make sure that we can get from phase to phase as quickly as possible and as much as we can in a healthy matter when it's time."
Q: When we talk about Phase 2, how far do we have to go and how soon do you think that could happen?
Woodward: "Well we need to get those other two of the four metrics that we're talking met, and so I don't know how long that's going to be. We need to get those positivity rates down in our cases and we need to get those hospitalization rates down so that's work that needs to be done by all of us - and the only way we can do that is to follow the public health guidance of wearing a mask, social distancing, washing hands, if you're not feeling well to stay home. So those are the things that we know we can do that are in our power to make a difference so we can move forward.
"And we need to move forward for our small businesses that are the backbone and the life blood of our local economy. There was a segment that you just had on your news about ten minutes ago that indicated, the big corporations, the big box stores, the Amazons, the Targets the Walmarts, those are all doing very very well. If you're out and about you see that those are bustling, but it's the small businesses that are barely surviving, that are clinging to the vine. So those are the ones that we need to be thinking about about moving forward. They're the ones who can't keep their doors open because they're shut down, and their employees aren't working."
Q: Under this new reopening plan do you think there's anything that should have been done differently?
Woodward: "Well I'm thankful that it wasn't a one size fits all statewide approach. You know from the very beginning of COVID early on in 2020 I advocated for a regional opening plan, that the state of Washington was experiencing COVID in different ways, that Eastern Washington wasn't the same as Western Washington and at the time we weren't experiencing it the same. Our impact is still not the same when it comes to our economy and how it's impacting Eastern Washington. When a huge portion of our jobs are related to the hospitality industry, that's a huge impact here when those businesses are closed down and our people are not working. And so I'm glad that at least it's regional at least it's not state wide. It makes it a little more challenging when we're lumped in with eight other counties but that's what we're looking at. We have a goal now and we do have a plan. Those businesses that were shut down back in November, it's been two months. We have something to work toward. So that gives us hope."