For the most recent tally of cases by county, demographics, and more, visit the Department of Health’s website.

New definition of a close contact
Today, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) updated the definition of a COVID-19 close contact to align with new CDC guidance. The new guidance states that close contact is defined as someone who was within six feet of someone with COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes. Previous guidance stated 10 minutes.

“Our guidance has changed over time as we learn more about COVID-19, and will continue to do so in the future,” said State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy. “This update doesn’t change our recommendations for members of the public. We continue to urge people to maintain physical distance to protect themselves and others.”

DOH will be working over the next few days to update our website and associated guidance documents.

Inslee announces religious and faith-based services guidance
Beginning today, religious and faith-based organizations in Phase 1 counties may host up to 100 people for outdoor services. In Phase 2, they can host up to 25% of their capacity or 50 individuals, whichever is less, as well as conduct in-home services of five people. The guidance, which includes weddings and funerals, is available here.

Three new counties approved to move to Phase 2
Today Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman approved variance applications for Kittitas, Thurston, and Walla Walla counties to move into Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start plan. Kittitas County was previously on pause due to an outbreak investigation. Over the past three weeks, the Kittitas County Public Health Department demonstrated their ability to quickly and thoughtfully respond to an outbreak in their community.

A total of 24 counties have now been approved to move to Phase 2: Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Cowlitz, Ferry, Garfield, Grant, Grays Harbor, Island, Jefferson, Kittitas, Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Pacific, Pend Orielle, San Juan, Skamania, Spokane, Stevens, Thurston, Wahkiakum, Walla Walla, and Whitman.

Clallam, Kitsap, and Klickitat counties are eligible to apply for a variance to move to Phase 2. The application from Clark County remains on pause due to an outbreak investigation.

Inslee extends proclamation relating to COVID-19
Yesterday the governor extended a proclamation regarding garnishment and accrual of interest (20-05, 20-49, 20-49.1, and 20-49.2)  in response to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. The proclamation is effective as of 11:59 PM on May 27, 2020, subject to agreement by the leadership of the Washington State Senate and House of Representatives. The intent of this amended proclamation  (20-49.3) is to continue to protect CARES Act stimulus payments, as well as state and federal unemployment payments, from bank account garnishments.

COVID-19 transmission increasing in eastern Washington, decreasing in western Washington
The latest statewide modeling report estimates the effective reproductive number – the measure of how many new infections a single COVID-19 case will produce – for different parts of the state. The report is based on data from May 3-12. Findings are specific to that time period and include:

  • The reproductive number varied in different parts of the state. The report estimates the average reproductive number was below one in western Washington and above one in eastern Washington.
  • Excluding Yakima County, the estimated reproductive number for eastern Washington was fractionally above one.
  • The majority of cases were reported in King and Yakima counties.
  • New case counts were trending downwards in King County and were steadily increasing in Yakima County.
  • Yakima, Douglas, and Chelan counties had the highest number of cases relative to their population.
  • County rates will have changed in the most recent data, including data under review for county variance applications.

Veterans home welcomes returning residents
This week the Spokane Veterans Home will welcome a number of residents back from the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center. Several residents will return each day and transition from the COVID-19 Unit at the VA Medical Center to the Spokane Veterans Home COVID-19 Recovery Wing. Read more here.

Businesses ignoring pandemic closure orders can be cited and fined
Washington businesses that decide to open or operate in direct violation of Gov. Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order may be cited and fined for unsafe workplace conditions under emergency rules filed today by the state Department of Labor & Industries. Read article.

Washington State Labor and Industries offers free on-site or remote safety consultations for businesses to create safety programs for workplaces. See the Department of Labor and Industries’ website for more information.

You are not alone. Isolation is not good for us. We need each other for support and for fun, especially when we are dealing with the stress of a pandemic, financial uncertainties, and worries about our health or our loved ones’ health. The phased approach to opening the state—slow and careful to make sure we control the spread of the virus—is important not just for our economic growth but also for our mental health. Remember to take care of your body and your brain. Do something fun, connect with others and keep in touch with people who care for you. Don’t try to do everything today. If you are feeling overwhelmed, decide what must get done today and what can wait.

Child Care, Youth Development, and Summer Day Camps During the COVID-19 Outbreak guidance now available. As Washington State progresses through the phases of reopening, more families will return to work. This means the availability of care and youth development opportunities are critical as we move through the summer. In order to reduce the risk of virus transmission between children, youth, and staff; businesses, non-profits, cities, counties, and other entities planning for summer 2020 should use this guidance for all programs serving groups of children and youth from multiple households. Authorization to open specific types of programs is governed by Governor Inslee’s Safe Start Washington Recovery Plan and the ongoing guidance issued under the Plan. In keeping with the public health approach, it is anticipated that this guidance will be in effect through the summer months.

Full guidance here.

Important things to note
Any day camp the includes sports-related activities must also follow forthcoming guidance for youth sports.

Future guidance will cover:

  • Overnight camps
  • Youth sports and athletics (example: leagues, recreation teams, clubs)
  • Activities included as part of K-12 basic education or special education programs

Washington 211 COVID-19 Call Center
Do you need information or answers to your questions and concerns about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)? You can call 1-800-525-0127 or text 211-211 for help. You can also text the word “Coronavirus” to 211-211 to receive information and updates on your phone wherever you are. You will receive links to the latest information on COVID-19, including county-level updates, and resources for families, businesses, students, and more.

Interested in volunteering during disasters and significant events like COVID-19? Register with the Washington State Emergency Registry of Volunteers (WAserv) to partner with public health and others who need assistance in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic.