Whitman County approved to enter Phase 2

Second confirmed case in two days; businesses must meet criteria from governor’s office to reopen


EMMA LEDBETTER, Evergreen news editor

The Washington State Secretary of Health approved Whitman County’s Phase 2 variance waiver today, which will allow certain businesses to reopen, according to a press release from the Whitman County Emergency Operations Center. 

Another individual tested positive for COVID-19, according to the press release. This is the second positive test in Whitman County in two days after three weeks with no new cases. The patient is a 20-39-year-old female and is stable and isolating at home. 

Troy Henderson, director of Whitman County Public Health, previously said that it is possible to move back to Phase 1 if cases increase. 

The uptick in cases in Whitman County is an indicator that individuals need to maintain social distancing, according to the press release. 

Under Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Safe Start Washington” plan, select businesses can reopen in Phase 2 if they meet guidelines from the governor’s office. 

Businesses allowed to reopen in Phase 2 include restaurants and taverns at 50 percent capacity, manufacturing, construction and in-store retail, as well as professional and personal services. Professional services include offices such as accountants, attorneys and insurance agents. Personal services include hairstylists, nail salons and tattoo parlors. 

Outdoor recreation is also allowed as long as there are fewer than five people from different households.

Individuals in high-risk populations should consider limiting their participation in Phase 2 activities, according to the press release. 

Phil Weiler, WSU vice president for marketing and communications, said Whitman County moving into Phase 2 will have minimal effect at WSU Pullman. WSU employees who are able to work remotely will continue to do so. 

At least 823 individuals have tested negative for COVID-19, according to the Whitman County Health Department website