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Kittitas County is poised to remain in Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan when the first assessment is announced Monday, due to a last-minute announcement that again moves the goal posts for individual county requirements.

Gov. Jay Inslee Friday updated and clarified the criteria for counties to stay in Phase 3 of the state’s Healthy Washington pandemic reopening plan, according to a press release. The state will conduct its first assessment of individual county metrics after counties were decoupled from a regional grouping system, effective March 22.

Prior to today’s announcement, individual counties had to meet two metrics to remain in Phase 3: COVID-related hospitalizations over a seven-day period, and positive COVID cases in a 14-day period. Counties must now fail both metrics to be moved back in the phased system.

“Given the incredible progress on vaccinations and our focus protecting people from severe illness, we believe analyzing and requiring both metrics together is the right approach to make sure we’re considering the connection between COVID cases and our medical system and hospitalizations,” Inslee said in the release.

For Kittitas County and 16 others with populations below 50,000 those metrics were less than three hospitalizations and less than 100 positive cases. According to the most recent metrics provided by the Kittitas County Public Health Department, Kittitas County reported 126 positive cases between March 13 and March 26, and no hospitalizations.

Although Kittitas County is in the clear for now, the press release from Gov. Inslee stressed that the state as a whole is not in the clear yet in the fight against COVID.

“Case counts and hospitalizations are rising in Washington,” the release stated. “This is a concerning trend that is also happening nationally. Vaccines are making a difference in this fight, but millions of Washingtonians still need to be fully vaccinated. About 60,000 doses are being administered daily in Washington, but we still have to be mindful of our distance, wear our masks, and keep our gatherings small until COVID activity becomes less of a threat.”

The next assessment from the state will occur on May 3.

Reporting for the DR since March 2018. Lover of campfires, black labs and good vibes. Proud Humboldt State alum!

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