PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — 5 counties in the state of Washington will move to phase two of the ‘Safe Start Washington’ reopening plan.
Columbia, Garfield, Lincoln, Ferry and Pend Oreille were approved to move into phase two on Friday. They qualified after applying for a variance to his order closing the state. To apply for a variance, counties must have a population of less than 75,000 and no new cases of COVID-19 in the last three weeks.
Kittitas, Skamania, and Wahkiakum counties have also applied and their applications are under review.
Governor Jay Inslee spoke Friday at a press conference about the reopening phases, urging the rest of Washingtonians to be patient and to continue to stay home.
“We are making progress,” Inslee said earlier in the week. But, he cautioned that testing still needed to be increased in the state.
“We have much work to do to increase our testing capability,” he said. “We still do not have enough testing supplies, we hope we will have help from the federal government.”
He also said he is exploring the option for increasing antibody testing in the state.
On Monday, Inslee unveiled a new “Safe Start Washington” plan. Under the plan, smaller counties can apply for a variance from the order which would allow them to open even more businesses than allowed statewide. The counties must have a population of less than 75,000 that have not identified a resident with COVID-19 for the past three weeks.
Last week, Inslee extended his Stay Home, Stay Safe order through May 31.
Friday’s press conference is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. via livestream. KOIN 6 News will listen in and update this story when more information is available.