Though it may still be a long time before we can expect normal operations for a performance venue, film production or any other creative businesses, this week saw some of the biggest steps towards re-opening during the COVID-19 crisis.
Public Health launched a new data dashboard for King County on Wednesday, displaying the key measures involved with the re-opening process outlined by the State. And in an address today, Governor Inslee announced new benchmarks, timelines and guidelines, offering renewed hope for Phase Two very soon throughout the state, and even Phase Three for some as soon as next week.
While a spread of key metrics is usually not much a cause célèbre, Wednesday’s announcement of a new data dashboard for Public Health is worth at least a small bit of fanfare. The Key Indicators of COVID-19 Activity in King County, Washington provides a snapshot of several useful datapoints related to the virus, providing us all with more access to the numbers that our leaders are using to make decisions about re-opening policies and timeline.
It includes especially a tracker on one of the key metrics brought up in Governor Jay Inslee’s address today, the number of new confirmed cases per 100,000 across two weeks. With today’s announcement, counties with 25 new confirmed cases per 100K can apply to move to the second phase. Previously it was 10 new cases per 100K, an adjustment that may allow King County to make the switch sooner than later. According to the current dashboard, we are hovering just above the benchmark currently, with 28 new cases per 100K.
In an interview on the Public Health Insider, King County Public Health Officer Dr. Duchin described this indicator further: “Our target is to have a downward trend to fewer than 10 new cases for every 100,000 residents over a two-week period, which translates to about 16 cases or fewer per day over 14 days. The CDC defines this case level as a “low incidence plateau” for COVID-19 transmission and it suggests our efforts to limit COVID-19 spread are working to prevent the outbreak from growing.”
Beyond the good news adjusting the metric requirements for county re-opening, Governor Inslee went on to make several other key announcements in today’s address, available for viewing here. As of June 1, any counties that have already spent at least two weeks under Phase 2 and continue to meet the benchmarks may apply to move into the third phase. Currently 26 of Washington State’s 39 counties are in Phase Two, though King County and most the other largest and most effected areas remain in Phase 1. (An outline of the phases, requirements and related transitions is available here.)
In addition, the revised directive includes new requirements that will begin June 8, for all workers to wear facial coverings on job sites, unless they do not have any face-to-face contact.
While Phase Two offers little for venues, events, production work or other creative business activity, Phase Three will see the first opportunities for many to open. It will include gatherings of up to 50 people, and invites opening (with reduced capacity) by restaurants, bars, theaters, libraries, museums, galleries and other businesses at less than 50 people.