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Officials in King, Snohomish counties warn of joining Pierce County in Phase 2 rollback

Health officials are warning they’re at risk of rolling back in the state’s reopening plan if COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise.

SEATTLE — Health officials in King and Snohomish counties are warning they’re at risk of rolling back to Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan if COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to increase.

“For now, we’ve leveled off near the Phase 2 cutoffs - where we go next is up to us,” Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, health officer for Public Health – Seattle and King County, tweeted.

Doctors and nurses are caring for an increasing number of COVID patients, some of whom are in intensive care, according to UW Medicine.

“We've doubled the number of patients who are hospitalized from mid-March,” said Dr. Timothy Dellit, chief medical officer for UW Medicine, “It's a younger population, the average age was in their 40s, we're seeing young people with severe disease.”

Snohomish County officials say cases are rising there, driven by gatherings such as baby showers, camping trips, high school sports, church events, and get-togethers in peoples' homes.

Snohomish County, too, is at risk of rolling back.

“If we have to retreat the economy again, that's just hard on everyone, so please, we all need to do our best to try to bend this curve back down,” Dr. Chris Spitters, health officer for the Snohomish Health District, said last week.

Cowlitz, Pierce, and Whitman counties are being moved back to Phase 2 of Washington’s reopening plan on April 16, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Monday. That means businesses, including restaurants and gyms, will once again be operating at a maximum of 25% capacity.

King County narrowly avoided being on the list of counties being told to roll back to Phase 2 on Monday. Between March 20 and April 2, there was a case rate of 192.9 per 100,000 people in the county over a 14-day period - just below the case-rate threshold of 200 per 100,000. The county had a hospitalization rate of 4 per 100,000 between March 24-30 - just below the threshold of five.

Snohomish County had a case rate of 152.3 per 100,000 people and a hospitalization rate of 3.1 over the same time periods. 

The state said it will re-evaluate counties on May 3, and then decide if additional regions need to go back to Phase 2.