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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Meghan Porter, Public Information Supervisor, (360) 867-2097 or meghan.porter@co.thurston.wa.us 

Thurston County Commissioners and Mayors Hold Press Conference on COVID-19 Recovery
Leaders to discuss submitting the application for a variance to move to phase two of recovery

OLYMPIA – Today, the Thurston County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to approve sending the State Secretary of Health the Thurston County application for a variance to move Thurston County to Phase 2 of the ‘Safe Start’ approach.

The Board of County Commissioners Chair, along with the mayors of the cities of Olympia, Lacey, and Yelm will hold a press conference at 1:30 p.m. today to support Thurston County’s application to move to phase 2.

What: Press Conference with Thurston County Commission Chair and Mayors
When: 1:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Where: Thurston County Courthouse, Building 1, East End Parking Lot, 2000 Lakeridge Drive SW, Olympia

Note: All attendees will be required to wear face coverings and maintain at least 6 feet social distance.

The Board of Health approved the recommendation from the Thurston County Health Officer, Dr. Diana Yu, to move the application ahead during a special meeting on Friday, May 22.

If accepted, the variance will allow Thurston County to move to Phase Two of the Covid-19 recovery. Governor Inslee announce the option for Thurston County to apply for the variance on May 19.

“Moving to phase two does not mean we’re out of the woods,” Dr. Yu asserted. “Social distancing and other measures remain extremely important for the safety of our community. However, we do have the capacity needed for expanded testing and contact tracing, and we are moving forward thoughtfully and with caution. We meet Governor Inslee’s requirements to begin Phase two.”
Phase Two of the Safe Start Recovery Plan includes increased openings and/or capacity for retail, restaurants, fitness, salons, pet grooming, and other categories of service. It also allows for gatherings of up to five people outside a family group.

The requirements to apply for the variance include:

  • Fewer than 10 cases per 100,000 people over two weeks
  • Recommendation by the County Health Officer
  • Vote by the County Board of Health and Board of Commissioners
  • Letter from hospitals confirming bed capacity
  • Testing data and information
  • Local capacity for case and contact tracing
  • Isolation and quarantine capacity
  • Ability to perform outbreak investigations

Residents of Thurston County should continue to social distance and to wear cloth face coverings when out in public where social distancing is not possible. In addition, residents are asked to ‘stay local’ and not travel far from home to recreate or do business. It remains important to stay home if you’re sick, and to call your health care provider to see if you should be tested for COVID-19. Washing hands, and covering coughs are also important for continued protection.

“It’s important to understand that all of these efforts are adaptive,” said Dr. Yu. “That means we must remain cautious and continue to assess the situation with every step forward. We know that this virus can surge, if given the opportunity. Each step of our recovery relies on all of us to remain vigilant and thoughtful. If we can do that, and infections remain low, then we can assess our readiness for the third step of recovery in three or four weeks.”

For the most up-to-date information for the Thurston County COVID-19 response and recovery, visit: https://www.thurstoncountywa.gov/phss/Pages/coronavirus.aspx


County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3