Inslee appears nowhere near lifting his pause on counties changing phases

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Gov. Jay Inslee gave no indication Thursday that he’ll be lifting the pause on his phased Safe Start COVID-19 reopening plan any time soon.

Inslee ordered the pause in early July after positive cases of the virus spiked throughout the state. Chelan and Douglas are among five counties stuck in a modified version of Phase 1, currently the most restrictive phase.

When asked at a news conference about lifting the pause, Inslee acknowledged there has been a recent decline in cases but said there are concerns about other metrics.

“Our ability to open these businesses is dependent on reducing the rate of infection,” Inslee said.

He cited three metrics he wants to see positive movement on before easing restrictions.

In addition to cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day period, he also cited lowering the positivity percentage per test and lowering the number of people each person infects.

He said the positivity percentage showed improvement but has plateaued “in the last week or so.”

People with the virus infecting others “we think might have been below 1 but might be above it now,” he said. “We’ve got to get that number down.”

“Get all those three numbers down to a level where we believe we can keep them down,” Inslee said. “We’re a ways away from those right now.”

He also continued to stress compliance with his face-coverings mandate.

If we want to open up our businesses, the more people that wear masks, the faster we’re going to open up our businesses. That’s just a lead pipe fact.”