Gov. Jay Inslee announced Tuesday, May 4, he is instituting a two-week pause on movement in the Healthy Washington: Roadmap to Recovery reopening plan.
Under Inslee’s pause, every county will remain in its current phase. At the end of two weeks, each county will be re-evaluated.
Walla Walla County is in Phase 3, currently the least-restrictive segment of the plan. Local health officials reported Monday, May 3, the county would stay put for the next phase announcement, which was scheduled to happen Friday, May 7.
County officials were unable to comment by press time.
The governor’s decision was made in consultation with the Washington state Department of Health, and reflects data suggesting Washington’s fourth surge of COVID-19 has hit a plateau.
“We are at the intersection of progress and failure, and we cannot veer from the path of progress,” Inslee said Tuesday.
“Our economy is beginning to show early signs of growth thanks to some of our great legislative victories and we know vaccines are the ticket to further reopening — if we adhere to public health until enough people are vaccinated.”
For the past several weeks, epidemiologists have been following the state’s fourth COVID-19 wave, which now appears to be leveling out, Inslee said.
They’ve found the virus’ impact to be less severe and case counts and moralities have not been tied in rates of increase as they have in the past, the announcement noted.
The changes in data throughout the fourth wave have been attributed to increasing vaccination rates, shortening hospital stays and lessening the severity of the illness. The state’s early vaccine prioritization has also been tied to improved data and decreasing mortality rates in the state’s most vulnerable populations.
In Walla Walla County, more than 48,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have gone into arms and 2,800 doses have been administered in Columbia County.