Clark County officially applies for Phase 2 of reopening

The county’s public health officer said the state could respond as soon as Tuesday

CLARK COUNTY — The Clark County Board of Public Health on Friday unanimously approved sending a letter to Washington state secretary of Health John Wiesman, requesting that the county be allowed to move to Phase 2 of the governor’s four-phased reopening plan.

Clark County is on the list of a dozen Washington counties eligible to apply for a move to Phase 2 of reopening. Photo courtesy Washington Gov. Jay Inslee
Clark County is on the list of a dozen Washington counties eligible to apply for a move to Phase 2 of reopening. Photo courtesy Washington Gov. Jay Inslee

“I can’t guarantee that the state is going to approve it,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, the county’s public health officer. “But I would hope, based on what I’ve heard the turnaround is, that we’ll receive notification by Tuesday.”

Melnick said he anticipates the state will review their application over the weekend. With Monday being Memorial Day, a decision would likely come on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Under Gov. Jay Inslee’s revised guidelines, counties with fewer than 10 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 14 days are eligible to apply for a variance. 

Clark County has seen 52 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the past 14 days, including eight more on Friday, which would put them slightly higher than the maximum number. It remains unclear what dates the state would be looking at in order to define that metric.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s four-phased approach to reopening the state. Photo courtesy Washington Gov. Jay Inslee
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s four-phased approach to reopening the state. Photo courtesy Washington Gov. Jay Inslee

The county also received letters from PeaceHealth Southwest and Legacy Salmon Creek, asserting that they have a minimum of 14 days worth of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), along with enough capacity to handle a 20 percent rise in cases.

Clark County Public Health is also finalizing a contract with the Public Health Institute to provide people to notify individuals who have been in close contact with a confirmed case and assist with self-isolation. Melnick said testing capacity and the percent level of positive tests also should be at a level the state will approve of.

Currently, there are 10 counties that have been approved to move to Phase 2. An additional 12 counties are eligible to apply, including Clark, Cowlitz, and Pacific counties, the latter two of which were added on Thursday.

In all, the governor noted in a release on Friday, a third of the state is eligible to move to Phase 2, which includes opening more retail locations, restaurants at half capacity, along with hairdressers, salons, pet groomers and tattoo artists. The phase also allows for more social gatherings of up to five people per week outside of your immediate household.

“As we move into the three-day weekend, I urge Washingtonians to keep working diligently to protect your families and communities,” Inslee said. “Please continue to physically distance, spend time with those in your household and stay close to where you live. We have made tremendous progress in this fight and I know this has been extremely difficult for everyone. Our collective efforts have protected health and saved lives.”

Clark County Council, which also serves as the board of health, met following the vote to also approve sending the request to the state.

About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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