Rising COVID-19 infections threaten to roll back Snohomish County economic recovery

In the North Sound, health officials are worried an increasing number of COVID-19 infections could again cause surges at local hospitals.

The problem is so concerning elected leaders now say Snohomish County’s phased reopening of their economy could be forced to dial back if more cases emerge.

Health officials say now is the time to flatten the curve again.

Small business owners struggling to stay open said Tuesday’s message was a hard blow.

Niko Flemetakis and his family have run Time Out in Mountlake Terrace for 17 years. He thanks loyal customers who fill the seats but only to up to 50-percent capacity under Phase 2.

“Going backwards is a mistake in my opinion,” he said, adding he would follow Phase 1 guidelines if required. “The most important thing for us is to keep ourselves safe.”

It was only about a month ago when Snohomish County officials were pushing Gov. Jay Inslee to approve moving into Phase 2. But Tuesday morning, health officials warned new COVID-19 infections are growing and it has nothing to do with the number of those getting tested.

“Watching what happens around the country with places that have opened up too soon and are seeing seen huge spikes, if we see that here and we’re stressing hospital capacity I can see the possibility for a call to go back to Phase 1,” said County Executive Dave Somers.

“We’re fighting for our family’s financial life,” said Shawn O’Donnell Sr.

The O’Donnell family operates four restaurants in Washington state; three in Western Washington, one in Everett and two in Seattle. All locations saw layoffs during the shutdown these past several months.

The family spent months preparing to reopen under new guidelines. Now they hope a resurging virus doesn’t again force employees out of a job and a hard-reset for their business.

“Are we in a position now where we need to have our dining rooms closed until a vaccine comes?” wondered O’Donnell Jr.

Snohomish County health officials say they haven’t seen similar spikes in new infections since April.