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Pierce County executive: ‘Unrealistic’ benchmarks will delay Phase 2 approval

Executive Bruce Dammeier says cases in long-term care facilities should be counted separately from the county's general totals of COVID-19 cases.

PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — Don’t expect barbershops and nail salons to open in Pierce County June 1.

Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier said unless Gov. Jay Inslee makes changes to his COVID-19 benchmarks, it could be weeks before Pierce County is allowed to proceed to Phase 2 in the governor's reopening plan.

“The metrics that the Governor has laid out I believe are unrealistic when you consider some of the long-term care facility challenges,” said Dammeier.

RELATED: King County's health officer expresses hesitation about moving to Phase 2

Dammeier said despite a drop in cases, Pierce County still has twice as many new cases as the benchmarks allow to move into Phase 2.

”That’s going to be really difficult for the people of Pierce County to meet that anytime soon, certainly by June 1,” Dammeier said.

He said the county should be able count COVID-19 cases from within long-care facilities separately from the county’s general totals.

RELATED: Snohomish County needs to see drastic decrease in COVID-19 cases to head to Phase 2

Dammeier said he was scheduled to talk to Inslee this week about separating the two groups.

Boe Ervin is holding out hope he will be able to open up his Ervin’s Barbershop in South Tacoma next week.

”I want to get back. I love it, this is what I do. I work with my hands. I like to create and make people look good and feel good all over again,” Ervin said.

Officials previously said June 1 would be the earliest the state would move on to Phase 2. Phase 2 of Washington’s four-phase recovery plan allows for visiting with up to five people outside your immediate household per week, increased outdoor recreation, along with more businesses being allowed to resume operations, including restaurants at 50% capacity.  

As of Tuesday, a total of 21 counties were approved to move into Phase 2 of reopening: Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Cowlitz, Ferry, Garfield, Grant, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Pacific, Pend Orielle, San Juan, Skamania, Spokane, Stevens, Wahkiakum, and Whitman.