San Juan County has entered Phase Two of the state’s Start Safe plan.
San Juan is one of seven counties Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman approved variance applications for on Saturday, May 23. Cowlitz, Grant, Island, Jefferson, Mason and Pacific were the other counties approved.
San Juan County staff submitted its request on the afternoon of May, 22, with approval granted in less than 24 hours. According to a post by the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office, the county entered Phase Two at 1:29 p.m. on May 23.
Businesses approved to move into Phase 2 must comply with all health and safety requirements outlined in the guidance to reopen. Additionally, San Juan County Public Health Officer Dr. Frank James has required everyone to wear a face-covering when inside businesses in the islands.
To qualify for a variance, counties must have had an average of fewer than 10 new cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day period. The application process required support from the local health officer, the local board of health, local hospitals, and the county council, according to a press release from the state.
Each county requesting variance must demonstrate it has adequate local hospital bed capacity as well as necessary persona protective equipment supplies to keep health care workers safe. The application must include plans for making testing available and accessible to everyone in the county with symptoms; staffing for case investigations and contact tracing; providing housing people in isolation or quarantine who can’t or don’t want to do so at home; providing case management services to those in isolation and quarantine; and responding rapidly to outbreaks in congregate settings.
Wiesman then reviews the requests for variances and can approve the plans as submitted, approve with modifications or deny the application. The variance can be revoked if circumstances change within the county, such as an outbreak.
For more information about county variances and the statewide response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.wa.gov.