MOUNT VERNON, Wash. - The road to Phase 3 in Governor Inslee's 'Safe Start Plan' is proving to be difficult for a number of counties in Washington State and that includes Skagit County as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
According to the governor's plan, the county has to stay under 25 cases per 100-thousand residents within a 14-day period. With the county`s population, it is allowed 33 cases. Based on data from the County's health department, from June 10th until June 24th, Skagit County has seen 38 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. The county is eligible to apply for Phase 3 as early as Friday, however public health officials are not confident with the new case numbers.
They are however hoping that because they are hitting other metrics, they might still be considered for the next phase.
Laura Gelwicks is the communications coordinator in Skagit County.
"We are primarily seeing large increases in our rate of transmission due to unauthorized gatherings, so gatherings that are larger than they should be under phase two. Travel, travel outside of immediate neighborhood and households and transmission in workplaces. So of the 3 of those we expect a certain amount of transmission to happen in workplaces we obviously have to allow people to go to work, keep our economy moving, keep people employed, but the other two you know are unfortunate.”
Back in April, Skagit County health officials recommended Skagitonians wear face coverings at all times in public.
Gelwicks says the county is continuing to push educating the public on the importance of complying with the guidelines. She says people have to take the personal responsibility to do these things or the rates of transmission will continue to rise and the last thing the county wants is to move backwards right now.
"This is not a political or a bureaucratic problem, it is a virus, we are in a pandemic and COVID-19 doesn't care if we have done everything right, it doesn't care if we have been unproblematic, or if our public health department has been working 70 hour weeks for the last 3 months, it doesn't care..."
Gelwicks says the Skagit County public health officer and the public health department have not made a decision on if they will recommend to the board and county commissioners whether or not it is safe for the county to apply for 'Phase 3.'
A meeting to discuss the option is set for 3 p.m. Friday June 26th.
Click here to watch the meeting live.