Newhouse criticizes Inslee after most of his district is forced to stay in Phase 1

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U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse declares his vote for the impeachment of President Donald Trump Jan. 13, 2021.

With the majority of his congressional district now the last area of the state still stuck in Phase 1 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s COVID-19 reopening plan, U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse has lashed out at the governor.

“Gov. Inslee has failed the people of Central Washington and lost all credibility,” Newhouse said in a press release Friday.

On Thursday, Inslee, a Democrat, announced that all remaining regions of the state, with the exception of the South Central region, would move to Phase 2.

In that phase, among other things, restaurants are allowed to resume indoor dining under certain limits.

The South Central region includes Yakima, Kittitas, Benton, Franklin, Walla Walla and Columbia counties. The 4th District Newhouse represents includes the population centers of Yakima, Richland, Kennewick and Pasco, all still in Phase 1.

“Since the beginning of this pandemic, Gov. Inslee has failed to lead our state based on clear facts and unambiguous scientific guidelines,” Newhouse said. “He has shown no effort to understand the unique challenges of Central Washington, and his ever-changing metrics have unfairly targeted our region, despite the progress we have made.”

Two weeks ago, Inslee loosened the requirements of his Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery plan and moved the Puget Sound and West regions, the most populous areas in the state, to Phase 2.

On Thursday, all but the South East region were moved to Phase 2.

Previously, a region had to meet all four metrics of the Healthy Washington plan and would be reassessed every week. Now, in addition to only needing to meet three metrics, the reassessment is done every other week.

That means the South East region has at least two more weeks of Phase 1.

Newhouse, a Republican, said it’s time to take the power out of the governor’s hands.

“Enough is enough. It is time our state legislators, local health boards, and health officials take the lead on implementing safety measures and monitoring for adjustments as needed,” Newhouse said.