Courtesy of governor.wa.gov

Courtesy of governor.wa.gov

Inslee extends pause on counties advancing phases to July 28

A spike in cases could cause hospitalizations and deaths to rise soon.

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee is keeping his foot on the brakes for counties trying to advance phases in his “Safe Start” plan, and warned there is a “significant chance” the state could soon move in reverse if the coronavirus continues to spread.  

In early July, the governor announced counties would have to wait until July 16 to ask the state to move forward in his four-tiered reopening plan. On July 14, Inslee extended the pause until at least July 28. And unless Washingtontians mask up and halt the rising spread of the virus, there is a significant chance restrictions on businesses and social activity could soon come back, he said.

“We have to face a brutal truth. Unfortunately, this pandemic is still raging in the state of Washington,” Inslee said during a July 14 news conference. “That’s painful to say, but it is a reality.”

Figures for new cases, infection rates and hospitalizations are rising at a stable rate statewide, Inslee said.

“We are not seeing the explosive rise like we did in March,” Inslee said. “We are seeing a steady climb. Somehow we have to break that climb to a plateau and break that number down.”

That could mean re-enacting restrictions for indoor activities like dining, he said.

To avoid that, wear a face mask, avoid large groups and limit unnecessary activity.

The governor’s announcements come as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in King County.

As of the July 14 press conference, King County had 12,224 positive cases and 606 total COVID-related deaths, according to the county. Statewide, Washington has seen 42,304 confirmed cases of COVID and 1,404 total COVID-related deaths as of July 14, according to the state Department of Health.

Across the state, new cases are concentrated with young people, who are less likely to experience serious symptoms from the virus. Some counties have seen increases in hospitalizations believed to be associated with cases creeping into older age groups.

Across the country, elected leaders and health experts have long said quick contact tracing is key in the fight against the coronavirus, as businesses and activities reopened after months-long closures.

Local health officials have struggled to track down the newly infected and notify everyone potentially exposed to the virus in the timely manner sought by the state as a requirement for reopening.

Statewide, counties are reaching between 30% to 100% of people within 24 hours of a positive test result, state Secretary of Health John Wiesman said during a news conference last week.

In May, Gov. Jay Inslee launched an initiative to assemble a brigade of men and women to assist local health districts contact individuals sickened with coronavirus and track down others who they may have infected.

Since then, roughly 1,500 people have been trained as contact tracers. Of the total, about half are members of the National Guard and the other half are employees of the Department of Licensing. And the pool continues to grow with 268 people added to the ranks in recent days.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@bellevuereporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.bellevuereporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

Screenshot of Gov. Jay Inslee during his July 14, 2020, press conference.

Screenshot of Gov. Jay Inslee during his July 14, 2020, press conference.

More in News

In Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s reopening plan, which was announced Jan. 28, restaurants can reopen at a maximum 25% capacity and a limit of six people per table. Inslee recently announced all counties will be staying in Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan for the next several weeks. Pictured: People enjoy outdoor dining last summer in downtown Kent. Courtesy photo
Inslee: All of Washington to stay in Phase 2 for a few weeks

The governor issued a weekslong pause on regions moving backward, but has yet to outline a Phase 3.

Entrance to the Tukwila Library branch of the King County Library System. File photo
King County libraries will reopen in some cities for in-person services

Fall City, Kent libraries among six selected for partial reopening.

Mock-up of the future Dick’s Drive-In (photo credit: Dick’s Drive-in)
New Dick’s Drive-In location announced for Bellevue

The famous Seattle hamburger company said they used customer input to decide new location.

In a zipper merge, cars continue in their lanes and then take turns at the point where the lanes meet. (Koenb via Wikimedia Commons)
Do Washington drivers need to learn the zipper merge?

Legislators propose requiring zipper merge instruction in drivers education and in license test.

Pan-fried wontons with chili and spicy garlic sauces (photo credit: Dough Zone Dumpling House)
New Chinese dumpling house to open in downtown Bellevue

Dough Zone menu to feature soup dumplings and pan-fried wontons.

A South King Fire & Rescue firefighter places a used test swab into a secure COVID test vial on Nov. 18, 2020, at a Federal Way testing site. (Sound Publishing file photo)
Masks are still king in combating new COVID strains

A top UW doctor talks new strains, masks and when normal could return.

Washington State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
Democrats look to allow noncitizens to serve on school boards

A Senate bill takes aim at a state law requiring anyone seeking elected office to be a citizen.

A CVS pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
State health leader: We have a plan, we don’t have the supply

Two months after the COVID vaccine landed in Washington, many still struggle to secure their shots.

An Island Park Elementary teacher and her students hit the books on Feb. 8 in the Mercer Island School District. The single largest amount of Gov. Jay Inslee’s newly announce relief package, $668 million, will go to public elementary and secondary schools to prepare for reopening for some in-person learning and to address students’ learning loss. Courtesy photo
Inslee signs $2.2 billion COVID relief package

The federal funds will go to fight COVID, aid renters and reopen shuttered schools and businesses.

Most Read