Columbia County Public Health officials are imploring people to remain vigilant in the fight against COVID-19 as the county prepares for an early adoption of a Phase 2 economic reopening approved Friday.
“We continue to recommend all people living in Columbia County take everyday precautions to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19 and influenza,” Public Health Administrator Martha Lanman wrote in a news release.
Columbia County was one of five counties approved to move early to Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s economic reopening plan.
Neighboring Garfield County, the only county in the state without a case of coronavirus, is also approved, along with Lincoln, Ferry and Pend O’Reille counties, according to an announcement from the Washington Coronavirus Response Joint Information Center.
The applications were approved by Washington Health Secretary John Wiesman.
“We recognize COVID-19 is impacting some parts of our state in different ways and some counties will be ready to move forward earlier than others,” Wiesman said in a news release. “While recognizing that reality, we set cautious, thorough requirements for counties that want to apply for a variance. Each of the counties approved to enter Phase 2 has demonstrated strong planning and capability in the areas necessary to protect public health in their communities.”
Only counties with fewer than 75,000 people and no new cases of COVID-19 in the last three weeks were eligible for skipping from Phase 1 to Phase 2.
Lanman said the county’s dedication to the previous restrictions was what allowed them to move up early to Phase 2.
The news release detailed all of the activities and businesses now approved for reopening in the county: outdoor recreation and public gatherings involving no more than five people outside each household per week, essential travel and limited nonessential travel within the proximity of homes, manufacturing, construction, domestic services such as babysitting and cleaning, in-store retail with restrictions, real estate services, office-based work with at-home work strongly encouraged, hair and nail salons, pet grooming and restaurants and bars with some restrictions.
Lanman said people should still cover coughs with disposable tissues, wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds or CDC-recommended hand sanitizer, avoid close contact with sick people, avoid touching one’s face, clean and disinfect surfaces common surfaces, take care of one’s general health, stay home if when feeling sick and be current on vaccinations.