Governor Says No To Spokane Variance; Local Officials Disappointed

May 14, 2020

Spokane officials say they're disappointed the state has said no to the county's request to move faster in reopening the economy.
Credit Spokane COVID Response

Spokane elected leaders says they’re disappointed in state Health Secretary John Wiesman’s decision to deny the county’s request to speed up plans to reopen the county’s economy.

The county had filed a variance request on Tuesday to allow it to move directly to the second phase of state’s four-part Safe Start plan. The secretary said the state doesn’t yet have criteria to guide more populous counties as they allow more businesses to open.

Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward says the county has played by the rules and is ready to move forward.

“We have done everything we have been asked to do. Our community has done everything it’s been asked to do. We stayed home. We social distanced. We exercised proper hygiene and etiquette and we have flattened the curve. Our cases are increasing by single digits. We have a handful of people in our hospital. We have hospital capacity and surge capacity," Woodward said.

Smaller counties with population of less than 75,000 have been allowed to reopen, according to guidelines released by the state. Eight, including four that border Spokane have been given permission to allow more businesses to reopen.

Spokane Valley Mayor Ben Wick says the county will continue to press what it considers to be a strong case with the governor.

Millwood Mayor Kevin Freeman says local leaders knew they were early in making the county’s case, but he says they believe they’re leading the way for larger counties.

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich says he worries about local business owners who are struggling and may not be able to wait for the state to act to remain in business.