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Three NE Washington Counties Formally Apply For Coronavirus Variance

Tri-County Health District

Northeast Washington’s Tri-County Health District has submitted a request to allow three counties to move ahead with reopening their economies.

The Tri-County Health District submitted a variance Tuesday on behalf of Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties. All want to be allowed to skip phase one of the state’s reopening process, which began Tuesday, and move right to phase two.

Ferry and Pend Oreille counties are on the list of 10 counties deemed eligible by the state to allow a slightly more aggressive strategy. Stevens County officials say, if their county reports no new confirmed cases by Monday, they too will satisfy the state’s criteria.

Washington Health Department Secretary John Wiesman says his agency will move quickly to review variance requests.

Ferry County Commissioner Johnna Exner says, if the state determines Ferry and Pend Oreille check all the boxes, they could get permission to implement their local re-opening plans as soon as this week. For now, the health district is asking businesses to honor the requirements spelled out in the first phase.

The governor is requiring counties to spend at least three weeks at each phase before moving to the next one.