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The Kittitas County Public Health Department issued a requirement Monday calling for all residents of the county to stay at home.

The order comes as communities across the nation fight to prevent community spread of the novel coronavirus. The order is effective as of midnight Tuesday and will continue until 11:59 p.m. on April 3. The order states that it will be reviewed every 10 days to determine the need to continue the order and will be renewed as needed.

REQUIREMENTS AND EXCEPTIONS

The order requires all individuals living within Kittitas County to stay at home or in their place of residence except as needed to perform essential tasks or to maintain continuation of the federal critical infrastructure sectors. Those sectors include emergency services, health care and public health, food and agriculture, transportation, defense, water and energy, financial workers, information technology, critical manufacturing commercial facilities, water, power and communications.

The order also directs all businesses and governmental agencies to cease nonessential operations at physical locations in the county and prohibits all nonessential gatherings of any number of individuals, as well as the cessation of nonessential travel. Individuals may leave to provide or receive certain essential services or engage in certain governmental services. The order is also exempt for individuals experiencing homelessness but urges them to find shelter and government agencies to provide it.

Examples from a comprehensive list of essential businesses include grocery stores, farmers markets and food banks, social services, mailing and shipping services, restaurants serving food for delivery and/or takeout, gas stations, banks, auto supply and repair, farming and livestock operations, commercial construction that has already commenced, services necessary for the maintenance of sanitation and safety for the operation of residences and childcare facilities providing services that enable employees exempted in the order to work as permitted.

The order states that individuals may leave their residence to perform essential activities, which are defined as tasks essential to their health and safety. These include obtaining medical supplies and medication, visiting a health care professional, obtaining supplies needed to work from home, purchasing groceries and household consumer products and outdoor activities. Other essential activities defined by the order may include caring for a family member or pet in another household and performing work to provide essential products and services.

Although outdoor activities are allowed under the order, it requires people who choose to do so must at all times maintain social distancing as reasonably possible of at least six feet from any other person when they are outside their residence. Social distancing requirements are waived within the household.

FLATTENING THE CURVE

Kittitas County Commissioner Brett Wachsmith assured residents at a Monday press conference that county government will continue to operate during the order.

“We’re going to continue to provide essential services while being safe through this pandemic,” he said.

Kittitas County Sheriff Clay Myers said the office is directing their deputies to help enforce the order through education.

“This is what we generally do in this kind of a situation,” he said. “We want to encourage people and help them understand that people’s lives literally depend on this. This community has proven time and again that it can respond appropriately and professionally to a crisis.”

Myers reminded residents that the office is functioning normally, responding to calls and emergencies as needed.

“Your community is safe,” he said. “Steps are being taken to ensure it remains so.”

CONTINUED SPREAD

The order comes on the heels of a Monday press release from KCPHD about a fifth positive test for COVID-19, the patient being a 59-year old male. The release stated that the patient is in stable condition, but that the members of their household are also sick.

“We will no longer be sending out press releases in the future for additional positive tests in Kittitas County,” Health Officer Dr. Mark Larson said in the release. “We will continue to provide information to the public, but with community spread, positive results will be more common and not everyone from the general public will be tested for COVID-19.”

Larson also confirmed a sixth case within the county during the Monday’s press conference. He explained that since there is acknowledged community-wide spread of the virus, reporting individual cases makes little sense moving forward.

“We probably will be reporting numbers,” he said. “Along with our six confirmed cases, we also have at least six probable epidemiologically linked cases to our previous cases. Those are people who are connected, either living with those people, have the same disease processes going on, and those people we are currently not testing.”

Larson reiterated that the order comes from the acceptance that the virus is clearly present in the community, and that residents need to comply with the order out of regard for each other’s safety.

“Our fight against COVID-19 is going to take time and will change,” he said. “Right now, we need to take care of ourselves and our neighbors, conserve resources and be ready for changes as they happen.”

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