By Tracy Thompson
The Times 

Walla Walla County applies for a modified Phase 3

Information about the application likely to arrive just after this publication goes to print


WALLA WALLA— Walla Walla County Commissioners decided at a special meeting on Thursday, June 18 to apply for a modified Phase 3 of Governor Inslee’s Safe Start plan.

Phase 3 of the state’s plan allows outdoor recreational gatherings to be limited to 50 or fewer people, the county’s application modifies that to 25 or fewer people.

Travel in Phase 3 would allow all non-essential travel to resume, Walla Walla County is requesting a modification to allow essential travel and limited non-essential travel for Phase 1, 2, or 3 permissible activities.

At the time of the meeting, Walla Walla County did not fully meet the eligibility requirements to apply for Phase 3 of the plan. The county exceeded the requirement that limits new cases to under 15 over a two-week period. As of June 17th, the county had identified 17 new cases.

Meghan DeBolt, Department of Community Health (DCH) Director discussed the efficient case and contact investigations the department is able to maintain, typically conducting each case evaluation within 24 hours, and reaching the patient’s contacts within 48 hours. The DCH’s collaborative efforts with Providence St. Mary Medical Center’s Population Health program ensures that each patient is contacted once a day for a check-in.

DeBolt reported that there were no further positive COVID cases at Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc. since May 9, however, there were three cases linked to workers associated with FirstFruits and three cases to Blacktop Ranch.

Although both DeBolt and Dr. Larry Jecha were strongly in favor of asking citizens to wear cloth face coverings, Commissioner Greg Tompkins stated that his vote to approve the application was contingent on there being no county directive for residents to wear masks.

Once submitted, the county anticipates a response from Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman within three to five business days. If approved by Secretary Wiesman, the modification would be based on Phase 3 guidelines. A full description of the requirements and listing of various business guidelines can be found on the Washington State Coronavirus Safe Start website.

Reopening guidance by phase for businesses and employees, including health and safety requirements, can be found on Governor Inslee’s website.


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