The Southwest region of Washington is meeting three of the state’s four required targets this week, as it advances — along with the entire state — to Phase 2 of Governor Jay Inslee’s “Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery” reopening plan.
The region, which includes Klickitat, Skamania, Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum counties, has seen a decreasing trend in its two-week rate of new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 population as well as a two-week decrease in its rate of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population. It currently maintains a 71 percent capacity in its Intensive Care Units, well below its target of 90 percent, according to a Feb. 11 announcement from the state Department of Health.
It is currently falling short of a fourth target to meet: a seven-day percent COVID-19 test positivity rate of less than 10 percent. The region had a test positivity rate of 14 percent, according to the state Department of Health.
A region must continue to meet at least three benchmarks to remain in Phase 2; if it misses two of four of the metrics, it moves back to the previous phase.
Five regions were initially announced to move forward into Phase 2 last week, a decision that left Yakima, Walla Walla, and the Tri-Cities, which make up the Southeast region, behind in Phase 1. After a data-reporting error was discovered on Sunday, the state announced the region would move into Phase 2 immediately along with the rest of the state.
The Department of Health’s next announcement of phase adjustments is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 25.
In Phase 2, indoor dining in restaurants is permitted up to 25 percent of indoor capacity. Indoor gatherings are allowed, with a maximum of five people from outside your household, and are limited to two households. Outdoor gatherings can have 15 people present with no more than two households present.
Indoor weddings and funerals are allowed under Phase 2, and must follow venue requirements. Dancing remains prohibited. Low and moderate risk sports are allowed to take place inside again and fitness centers can operate at 25 percent capacity. Low, moderate and high-risk sports are all allowed outdoors with a 200-person limit, including spectators.
Indoor entertainment establishments, such as movie theaters and museums, can now operate at 25 percent capacity. If food and drinks are served, eating and drinking requirements apply.
Outdoor entertainment venues such as rodeos and concert venues can host groups of 15 and up to 200 people at once, while limiting groups to no more than two households.
Are you eligible for a vaccine?
COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Washington is in Phase 1b Tier 1 of the plan. This means the vaccine is available to anyone 65 and older, and all people 50 and older who also live in a multigenerational household. This is in addition to populations eligible during phase 1A including health care workers at high risk for COVID-19 infection, first responders, people who live or work in long-term care facilities, and all other workers in health settings who are at risk of COVID-19.
Washington residents can verify their eligibility by going to findyourphasewa.org and filling out the form. It asks a series of questions related to the four phases of vaccine distribution (living situation, age, health conditions, risk factors, work situation and zip code) to inform eligibility.
Once you are eligible, you can sign up to be placed on a waitlist through one of three vaccine distributors — North Shore Medical Group in White Salmon, Skyline Hospital in White Salmon, and Klickitat Valley Health in Goldendale. Each have their own set of instructions. For North Shore Medical Group, those eligible for the vaccine can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For Skyline Hospital, if you qualify and are within the designated demographic, call 509-493-1051 (due to high volume, your call may not be answered immediately — Skyline administrators request that you leave a message, and call only one time. A representative will get back to you as soon as possible). For Klickitat Valley Health, call 509-773-4029. KVH has developed a drive-through mass vaccination clinic program for the general public at the Klickitat County Fairgrounds. This program will begin on Monday, Jan. 25 and will include people 65 and over and people 50 and over living in multigenerational housing. Registration is required.
Three deaths since February
The Klickitat County Health Department (KCHD) was notified of three community member deaths on Feb. 5. All three individuals had underlying health issues that affected their health in addition to having COVID-19. Two of the individuals had recovered from COVID-19, however, their deaths were classified as COVID-related based on national standards.
Two of these community members were from White Salmon. One was 90-years-old and tested positive on Dec. 8. They passed away on Jan. 15 while under hospice care. The other individual was 77 years old and tested positive on Dec. 12. They passed away on Jan. 8.
The third community member was from Glenwood and 71 years old. They tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 9 while in Benton Franklin County. This individual was admitted to a Portland area hospital in mid-January and passed away on Jan. 20. Klickitat County has had a total of 717 COVID-19 cases to date and eight deaths.
You can help slow the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a face mask that covers your nose and mouth when you are in public, washing your hands, and staying home when you are sick. It is also highly recommended that the public avoid large gatherings and events even if they are hosted outside.
If you are currently experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, please contact your primary care provider about getting tested. COVID-19 symptoms can be different for everyone but generally include some of the following: Fever, chills, headache, muscle aches or pains, sore throat, sinus congestion, dry or productive cough, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain or cramps, loss of smell or taste, and fatigue.
Anyone with symptoms can be tested in Klickitat County by calling to make an appointment at Klickitat Valley Health, Skyline Health, or Northshore Medical Group.