Phase Two Maybe

Cautious optimism was spreading across the island, today. Island County has become a candidate to advance from Phase One to Phase Two. Washington State has been following a four phase plan for removing the restrictions that defend us against the pandemic. Rather than wait for the entire state to make the same progress, criteria were created that allow the restrictions to be lifted for individual counties.

county-status-map_5-18-20

Ten counties already met those criteria.

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Island County is in the second set of ten. The first ten had fewer than 75,000 residents, as well as other criteria. Island County has more like 80,000. So close. The next set have to demonstrate they meet slightly different criteria.

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That’s the optimism.

Here’s the caution.

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There is an awareness that there are no guarantees, and if the restrictions are lifted too soon, a resurgence could be worse than the initial wave. As counties open, people in closed counties may overwhelm the services in the opened counties. Four counties have fewer than 10,000 residents. That won’t fill some stadiums in Seattle, but it is easy to imagine 10,000 out of Seattle metro’s >4,000,000 deciding they all need a haircut badly enough to drive across the mountains or take a ferry.

The process

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There are at least eight other criteria, many of which involve getting timely responses from overwhelmed bureaucracies. Island County will have to organize the response, make the application, then wait for the State’s judgment. These are eager and anxious times.

As with most things, some residents want the process to accelerate while others prefer a delay. Governance is a balancing act which is why each county is in a different situation.

Memorial Day is near, the typical opening of the tourism season. Whatever happens, this will be an interesting summer.

Stay tuned. Stay safe. And hope.

 

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