NE Washington Counties To Ask To Reopen Businesses More Quickly

May 4, 2020

The Tri-County Health District in northeastern Washington will ask the state for permission to move more quickly to open businesses.
Credit Tri-County Health District

The health board that governs Washington’s three northeastern counties has taken the first step toward reopening businesses.

The Tri-County Board of Health voted today [Monday] to allow its health district to formally apply for a variance from the state’s four-step plan for exiting coronavirus restrictions and move more quickly than other counties. Phase one goes into effect statewide on Tuesday.

But the governor announced on Friday that 10 rural counties are eligible to move more quickly to phase two because they have few confirmed cases and none in the last 21 days. Those include Ferry and Pend Oreille Counties. Ferry has one case, Pend Oreille two.

Pend Oreille County Commissioner Karen Skoog says she hopes the state will consider the circumstances of those cases as well.

“They were well isolated and there was not risk of community spread. It would be very disappointing for counties to have that kind of isolated situation that would put businesses at risk that were not at risk from the spread of that disease community wide," Skoog said.

Stevens County Commissioner Steve Parker asked to include his county in the variance request. His county has had nine reported cases, including one death, but nothing in the last 14 days. The board agreed with that.

The health district must compile several documents for the state as part of its application to the state Department of Health. Each counties’ commissioners must approve it. Health District Administrator Matt Schanz hopes to formally submit the request by tomorrow, with hopes that the state will approve it by the end of the week.