State moves to Phase 3 of Reopening on March 22

By: Rachel Smith Posted: 03/15/2021

Learn more about what this means for business activities, and get the latest information on school reopening and vaccines

Washington Moves to Phase 3 of Reopening on March 22

Governor Jay Inslee announced on Mar. 11 that effective March 22, all of Washington state will enter Phase 3 of reopening. Per his announcement, Phase 3 will allow up to 50% occupancy or 400 people maximum, whichever is lower, for all indoor spaces. This applies to all industries and indoor activities currently allowed; restaurants, gyms and fitness centers and movie theaters, among others, may all increase their capacity.

Sports guidance will also change in Phase 3 to allow in-person spectators at events for the first time in a year. Spectators will be allowed to attend outdoor venues with permanent seating with capacity capped at 25%. Larger venue events are capped at 25% occupancy, or up to 9,000 people, whichever is less, and must follow spectator guidelines.

Under the updated plan, counties will be individually evaluated every three weeks. The evaluations will occur on Mondays with any possible changes taking effect Friday, with the first evaluation scheduled for April 12. For large counties to remain in Phase 3, defined as counties with more than 50,000 residents, they must keep a 14-day average of new COVID cases at or below 200 per 100,000 residents, and a seven-day average of new hospitalizations per 100,000 at five or fewer.

Governor Signs Emergency Declaration on School Reopening
On March 15, Governor Jay Inslee signed an emergency declaration he previewed on Friday that prohibits all K-12 schools in Washington from failing to provide some on-site instruction. 

From the Governor's Medium page
"Under the proclamation, schools will be allowed to stagger the reintroduction of students to campus. Schools will be expected to provide an in-person learning option that equates to at least 30% of instructional time by two key deadlines:

  • April 5: All students in kindergarten through fifth or sixth grade (depending on the school district) must be offered a hybrid option.
  • April 19: All remaining K-12 students must be offered a hybrid option.

In addition, schools must offer students at least two days per week of on-campus, in-person instruction.

As schools open, they must adhere to physical distancing, masking and environmental cleaning requirements set out by the state Department of Health (DOH) and worker safety requirements issued by the state Department of Labor and Industries."

Update on Vaccine Rollout

Through our partnership with King County, we are able to bring you real-time relevant information on what is happening with regards to vaccine.

President Joe Biden announced on Mar. 11 that he is directing states, Tribes, and territories to make all adults eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine no later than May 1, and shared a set of actions that the Administration is taking to increase vaccine availability. This comes after his directive last week to add teachers, school staff, and childcare workers to current phase-eligible populations.

Governor Inslee announced today that our state will move to Phase 1B, Tier 2, the next phase of vaccine eligibility, on March 17, five days earlier than previously announced. Newly eligible individuals will include:

  • Critical workers in some congregate settings including agriculture, food processing, grocery stores, corrections, public transit, corrections, fire and law enforcement, staff and volunteers in congregate living settings
  • People ages 16+ who are pregnant or have a pre-defined disability that puts them at higher risk.

The Governor also announced dates certain when more people will be eligible:

  • April 12: People ages 50+ with two or more comorbidities
  • April 26: People 16+ with two or more comorbidities and people living in congregate settings, people experiencing homelessness that live in or access services in congregate settings.

Collectively, this is a dramatic increase in the number of people becoming eligible when we don’t have a true understanding of how quickly the supply chain will open. We do not expect a significant increase in doses before the end of the month.

Public Health is refining its population estimates based on last week’s announcements. We know that the school staff and childcare worker population in King County is at least 70,000 people, which will be added to the estimated 100,000 adults ages 65+ who have not yet received dose one, approximately 35,000 of whom are BIPOC elders.

  • The good news: Over 300,000 people have already been vaccinated in King County, with significant progress with the elderly and BIPOC communities over the past three weeks.
  • However, there continues to be a material mismatch between vaccine eligible people and vaccine supply even before last week’s announcements. People will need to remain patient because we do not expect to see a significant increase in doses for at least the next 3 weeks.
  • President Biden and Washington state have indicated that pharmacies are the best place for school staff and childcare workers to access vaccine. Pharmacies across the state will receive more doses and have been asked to honor their current appointments but prioritize school staff and childcare workers for all new appointments.
  • King County Partnership Vaccination Network will continue to prioritize targeted outreach BIPOC and vulnerable population. All sites will also be open to school staff and childcare workers, but the doses are still very limited so it may be challenging to get appointments at our high-volume vaccination sites until supply increases.
  • As the supply chain increases, we are ready to get more shots into arms.
    • King County is currently administering 100,000 doses per week, and as the supply chain increases we have the capacity, plans and partners in place to administer up to 300,000 doses per week.
    • Lumen Field, which opened as a mass vaccination site on Saturday, will have capacity to administer 20,000 daily doses, once supply is available. While vaccine supply remains limited, the site will be open two to three days a week and distribute 4,000 to 5,000 doses of vaccine a week. This site will serve all county residents.
    • We are prepared for at least 3 more mass vaccination sites that will be stood up very quickly, timed with additional supply availability.
Two Things to Read & Watch
1) How to get vaccinated in King County
King County has developed an easy way to check your eligibility and find a provider.

2) Read about the three approved vaccines and common questions here from the Mayo Clinic