Moses Lake Mayor: State may revoke Phase 2 if numbers do not improve

by EMRY DINMAN
Staff Writer | August 26, 2020 12:14 AM

MOSES LAKE — Governor Jay Inslee has indicated to local elected leaders that Grant County has one month to improve its coronavirus numbers or risk moving back from Phase 2 of the state’s four-stage reopening plan, Moses Lake Mayor David Curnel said Tuesday.

“Basically he was looking to push us back because of the surge of COVID cases we’ve had,” Curnel said at Tuesday’s meeting of the city council. “The governor’s going to give us one month for improvement of our coronavirus numbers.”

In an interview, Curnel said that Inslee had told this to several counties during a video conference with elected officials, and that the announcement had been controversial. In order to stay in Phase 2, the county would have to level off its cases — cases have been accelerating week-over-week. Curnel said that Inslee was not clear what exactly this meant in practice.

The governor's office on Wednesday rejected Curnel's characterization of Inslee's comments, stating they lacked context and writing in an email that there "are no plans currently in place to push Grant County back to Phase 1."

"One of the items we’ve openly discussed with these counties (with high prevalence of COVID-19) is if moving back a phase or partial phase would be helpful," wrote Mike Faulk, press secretary for the governor's office. "In most cases, these counties have said it would not be and instead we’ve focused our efforts on reinforcing messages around masking."

If the county lost its Phase 2 status, which it was granted in late May, many businesses may again be ordered to close their doors or reduce the number of people they serve. To apply for the next phase of reopening, counties were required, among other things, to have no more than 25 new cases per 100,000 people in the last two weeks; as of Monday, the county health district reported that Grant County had 563.

While the governor earlier this month ordered a freeze on movement of counties into a further stage of reopening, no county has previously been pushed back to an earlier phase, according to state officials.

Curnel said Tuesday the city would be issuing a proclamation in support of the Grant County Mask Up Campaign, urging county residents to implement health recommendations, including wearing face masks while in public and to maintain six feet of distance with others.

The proclamation also acknowledges the sacrifices and efforts made to date by businesses, health care organizations, local departments and agencies, and the public.