Gov. Jay Inslee

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee meets with local public health officials, medical officers and health care workers to discuss ongoing COVID-19 efforts last month.

By The Associated Press

OLYMPIA — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says five counties in central and eastern Washington still under the tightest COVID-19 restrictions will be allowed to resume more activity and open more services.

At a news conference Tuesday the governor said Yakima, Benton, Franklin, Douglas and Chelan counties will be moved from modified Phase 1 into Phase 2. Inslee has instituted a virus reopening plan under which counties move through four phases — with 1 the most restrictive and 4 being a full reopening.

Under Phase 2, where Walla Walla County sits, the counties will be allowed to resume some adult and youth sports as well as outdoor recreation with more than 12 people. Also, more business activity will be OK’d, like movie theaters at limited capacity, restaurants with limited seating and indoor fitness centers with reduced numbers of people allowed.

Authorities say there has been a “leveling out” of coronavirus risk between the five counties and the rest of the state since a pause in the reopening plan took effect in July.

There have been more than 93,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Washington since the start of the pandemic and more than 2,100 deaths.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.

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