OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington state is on track to fully reopen by June 30, according to state officials.
Gov. Jay Inslee set that date last month as part of his Healthy Washington: Roadmap to Recovery plan. He has repeated over the past month that the state appears to be prepared to meet his target.
On Wednesday, state health leaders said Washington could reopen sooner if 70% or more of residents 16 and older get vaccinated with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
The data shows they're not there yet.
As of May 30, a little less than 63% of Washingtonians 16 and up have at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, which is almost 3.8 million people. Nearly 54% are fully vaccinated. That's more than 3.3 million people.
Health experts say the state is making "amazing" progress, but demand for the vaccine has really dropped off in many areas.
"Currently, based on the number of adults – people 16 and older – that are initiating the vaccine on a daily basis, we would be pretty close to June 30 – either just before or just after," Washington State Department of Health (DOH) Deputy Secretary for COVID-19 Response Lacy Fehrenbach said.
"I do want to make sure it's crystal clear to the public: we absolutely have the capacity and supply to advance early or reopen the economy early," she added.
"But we still worry there are far too many people who are eligible who could get vaccinated who have still not gotten vaccinated. And that is something all of us should be concerned about," DOH Secretary of Health Dr. Umair A. Shah said. "We're by no stretch of the imagination out of the woods. But we hope the days ahead of us are better, especially thanks to vaccines."
Washington and Oregon lag behind most states in lifting restrictions like capacity limits and mask mandates. So businesses in Washington are encouraged.
Currently, every county in Washington is in Phase 3. Among other restrictions, most indoor activities like dining are capped at 50% capacity.
This doesn't mean you can throw your masks away just yet. The governor's office told KGW Wednesday they're still trying to figure out what reopening means for mask mandates.
"Right now we follow the CDC’s guidance and they have not signaled when that may change again. Some level of COVID mitigation, like masking, is going to be helpful going forward, but what that means in terms of guidance will be strongly influenced by factors like ICU capacity and vaccinations administered," Gov. Inslee's Deputy Communications Director Mike Faulk said in an email.
Also, if the state's COVID-19 data changes and cases and hospitalizations surge, the hammer could come down again.
Currently, as Washington nears reopening, cases and hospitalizations are falling. While the total number of beds occupied by COVID patients have started to drop, the number is still high in certain parts of the state.
Meanwhile in Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown is also looking to the end of June without a specific date. She made a similar reopening plan, saying restrictions will be lifted when 70% of Oregonians 16 and up have at least one dose.
Oregon health officials believe the state will reach that goal by the end of June as well, but many counties lag way behind.