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May 5, 2020

Stay Home, Stay Healthy Updates from Skagit County

Ongoing COVID-19 Transmission in Skagit County

Public Health is in the process of converting our cases reporting system to better match the Washington State Department of Health, so we cannot provide new case data for today. Skagit County has reported 365 total cases as of 4 p.m. today. 
Daily updates and total case counts are available at http://www.skagitcounty.net/coronavirus. Case counts will continue to be updated at 4 p.m.

Governor Inslee’s Safe Start Plan
On Friday, May 1, Governor Inslee extended his Stay Home, Stay Healthy order through May 31, 2020. He also introduced his new Safe Start plan, which is a road map for safely returning to day-to-day life.

There are four phases to the Safe Start plan. Phase one starts today, May 5, and phase one businesses or activities will be able to reopen when safety protocols for each industry or activity are released by the Governor’s office. Each phase will last a minimum of three weeks. For more information on what is specifically included in each phase, please visit the Governor's medium post on the Safe Start plan

The decision to move to the next phase will be based on epidemiological data. Governor Inslee has provided this dashboard to help visualize the decision making process. Additionally, if there is a spike in COVID-19 cases or deaths, it is possible that Governor Inslee could put restrictions back in place. Continuing to practice good social distancing and hygiene will be vitally important until a vaccine and/or treatment is developed.

In order to move into the next phases of the Safe Start plan, we need to have a drastic reduction in the rate of transmission of COVID-19, as well as an expansion of testing, contact tracing and isolation/quarantine capability state wide. Skagit County Public Health has been working hard since day one of the pandemic to build testing capacity, contact tracing capability and our quarantine and isolation facilities. With the opening of the drive-through testing site last month, Skagit is ahead of many communities in its ability to provide these important services.

One of the highly anticipated pieces of the Safe Start plan was the ability for small counties to apply for variances, or the ability to move through the plans’ phases faster than the rest of the State. Skagit County is not currently eligible for a variance. Only counties with populations of less than 75,000 people that have not identified a case of COVID-19 in the past three weeks can apply. You can read more about variances on page 7 of the Governor’s Safe Start plan.

So, what does this mean for you?
First, we need from the community to continue staying home and staying healthy. Please continue to only leave home for essential trips, such as grocery shopping or to go to the doctor. As additional activities begin reopening, use good social distancing practices while in public. Stay six feet apart from anyone you come in contact with, wear a mask, wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face. The better the public sticks to these guidelines, the faster we will be able to move through the phases and return to normal.

Second, you should start thinking about adjustments you can make to your daily routines, workplaces and businesses to keep yourself safe as activities begin to reopen. Do you have a fabric mask your comfortable wearing, and are you confident in how to keep it clean? Does your family have a plan in place in case someone is exposed to COVID-19? If you’re a business’s owner, have you thought through what you and your employees will need to keep your customers safe once you’re able to reopen? Beginning to plan now means we can hit the ground running when the data shows it’s safe.
At Skagit County, we’re already working to install safety shields at our public counters, creating County wide protocols on social distancing and good hygiene and evaluating our workspaces to make sure it’s safe for employees and residents alike. Proper planning can help ensure that you get back to your day-to-day as soon as possible.

For more information on the Safe Start plan, visit the Governor’s medium page, Washington State Department of Health Medium page or www.coronavirus.wa.gov

Additional Resources

  • Skagit County Health Connection is a great resource to help answer your COVID-19 questions and concerns. Check out their latest post Can my pet give me COVID-19? and sign up for updates at skagitcounty.blog.
  • The Skagit County drive through testing site continues to operate at Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon. You do not need an appointment to be tested. The site is open to anyone over the age of 7 who meets the criteria listed here.
  • Skagit County Public Health has released episode five of Conversations COVID called Recovery, which features a conversation with the first Skagit County resident to be diagnosed with COVID-19 Susanne Jones. You can view the video here.