Pierce County joins Snohomish County push for Phase 2 variance
By Mario Lotmore | Lynnwood Times Staff
- Comments by elected officials
Today Pierce County joins Snohomish County leaders applying for Phase 2 of Governor Jay Inslee’s “Safe Start Washington” phased COVID-19 reopening plan.
Just after 4 p.m. today, in a tweet, County Executive Bruce Dammeier, County Council Chairman Doug Richardson and vice chairman Dave Morell called for an emergency meeting of the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department Board of Health to approve Pierce County’s Phase 2 application. If approved, a resolution for Phase 2 must be approved by the Pierce County Council before being submitted to the Washington Secretary of Health for consideration.
Earlier today, Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers, Board of Health Chair Stephanie Wright, and County Council Chair Nate Nehring jointly announced their intention for Snohomish County to be moved into Phase 2.
The decision to apply for a variance will need to be approved by the Snohomish Health District Board of Health and the Snohomish County Council. The emergency special meetings are scheduled for the Snohomish Board of Health at 10 AM Friday and the Snohomish County Council at 11:30 Friday.
If approved, the package, with a letter from Executive Somers, will be submitted by the Snohomish Health District to the Washington Secretary of Health for consideration.
Phase 2 allows for re-opening of restaurants, , nail salons, barbers, pet grooming, outdoor recreation, manufacturing, construction, domestic services, retail, real estate, and professional services.
Snohomish County Councilwoman Stephanie Wright will be proposing the variance in tomorrow’s special Board of health meeting. “It is now time for us to move into Phase II and re-start our economy. I will be proposing that the Board of Health consider a variance on Friday.”
“I am joining my colleagues in announcing a bipartisan proposal for Snohomish County to move into Phase 2. We cannot continue to wait on Governor Inslee’s lack of leadership while our businesses, workers, and families suffer,” tweeted Snohomish County Council President Nate Nehring.
“Snohomish County residents have paid a heavy price from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said County Executive David Somers in the official press release announcing the push for a variance to Phase 2.
Snohomish County Councilman Sam Low shared similar remarks. “It’s time for Snohomish County to take action. We have flattened the curve and it’s time to go forward to phase 2.”
Councilwoman Megan Dunn stressed that safety for residents is her number one priority. In a Facebook post today she wrote, “Moving forward as safe as possible and together!”
Newly appointed County Councilman Jared Mead addressed in a tweet, concerns from residents critical of the County Council’s decision.
“For anyone in Snohomish County worried about our community easing into Phase 2, I assure you we are basing our position on the best available advice from our leading health offices in the county.”
Mead continued, “Snohomish County Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters and his team are who we have relied on for accurate, science based, Snohomish County specific COVID information since the start of this crisis. He and his team are best equipped to understand our local situation here in Snohomish County. Based on the data, he has declared us ready and recommended we start easing into Phase 2.”
The state’s criteria for moving to Phase 2, includes that counties must have fewer than 10 new cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day span.
Snohomish County would need fewer than 80 cases over a 14-day period to qualify. According to the Snohomish Health District’s website between May 15 and May 28, the county has seen 233 new cases over the last 14 days or an average of 16.6 cases per day.
At his May 28 press conference, when asked about Snohomish County’s move to push for a variance by a Q13 reporter, Jay Inslee responded that he is awaiting a procedure to review but did not allude to what decision he will make.
“With regard to Snohomish [County] under the current order there isn’t a procedure for that but in the next few days we will have more decisions about June 1 and where we go from here. And I think some of that will be responsive to some of the concerns of some of the folks in Snohomish County will have.”
When asked about the status of the variance application for review, Heather Thomas, spokesperson for the Snohomish Health District, in an email to the Lynnwood Times stated it should be available no later than tomorrow morning.