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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Meghan Porter, Public Information Supervisor, (360) 867-2097 or meghan.porter@co.thurston.wa.us
Magen Johnson, Public Information Specialist COVID-19, email at magen.johnson@co.thurston.wa.us

Thurston County Submits Phase 3 Application to State Department of Health
The Board of Health and Board of County Commissioners held meetings today to vote

OLYMPIA – Today, the Thurston County Board of Health voted unanimously, then subsequently the Thurston County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to submit the Thurston County application for a variance to move Thurston County to Phase 3 of the ‘Safe Start’ recovery plan to the State Department of Health. If accepted, the variance will allow Thurston County to move to Phase 3 of the COVID-19 recovery. 

Phase 3 of the Safe Start Recovery Plan includes increased openings and/or capacity for outdoor group and recreational activities, restaurants and taverns, movie theaters, and other categories of service. It also allows for gatherings with no more than 50 people and resuming non-essential travel. 

Businesses must develop a written safety plan outlining how the workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19. The plan must be kept on the premises of the business and must be made available to regulatory agencies or local health or safety authorities upon inspection. Businesses can find the template on the Governor’s website at:  https://www.governor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/BusinessTemplate_Phase3_1.pdf 

“One of my main jobs as the health officer is to stop the spread of an infectious disease and the only thing I can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to ask you to follow the advice of physical distancing, washing your hands, wearing a face covering, and staying home when you are sick,” said Health Officer, Dr. Diana Yu. “Ninety-five percent of prevention is expecting the people receiving the message to follow the advice and the biggest problem I see is the community not following the advice for preventing the spread. Our numbers are going up, and they are going up because the community isn’t responding. Please follow this advice so we can slow the spread.”   

Yu added, “So many of us express that we are ‘so done with COVID-19!’ The only thing is, unfortunately, COVID is not done with us. We need to learn to co-exist with this disease safely and responsibly.”

“I am wary yet encouraged to move into Phase 3 of Safe Start. It is vitally important for businesses to reengage, people return to work, folks get out of their houses to shop, eat and recreate,” said John Hutchings, Chair of the Board of County Commissioners. “If Thurston County is approved for Phase 3, a reversion back to Phase 2 could be devastating economically and psychologically so please follow Dr. Yu’s advice, mask up, and keep yourself and others protected!”  

Chair of the Board of Health, Tye Menser said, “If our application for Phase 3 is successful, local government will be able to re-open to the public and our community will resume most of its economic activities. But this will only be successful if you --- and visitors to our community --- remain diligent about physical distancing and using masks any time distancing cannot be maintained.” 

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