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Adams County applies for a Phase 2 variance

by Rachal Pinkerton
Staff Writer | May 22, 2020 12:43 AM

RITZVILLE — On Thursday, Adams County commissioners announced that they have completed the application for a variance to move to Phase 2 of the state’s strategy for reopening. The state has acknowledged it has received the application.

In their letter to Gov. Jay Inslee and Secretary of Health John Wiesman, the Adams County commissioners wrote they were grateful that Adams County was able to seek the variance. They stated they were joined by their partner cities and towns in encouraging the governor to grant the variance, “allowing a distressed rural county to make a critical step forward in its effort to reopen.”

“All the leaders of Adams County will continue to respond to, and follow the guidance provided by the State of Washington in the fight against COVID-19,” wrote the commissioners, John N. Marshall, Roger L. Hartwig and Terrance J. Thompson. “However, we must also implement steps to stop the rapid decline of our economy, find a path to reopen locally owned businesses, and help all of our citizens reduce the mental and emotional stress, and financial burdens caused by this pandemic.”

Adams County had submitted an earlier application that was denied because the county didn’t meet the state‘s then-requirement of no new COVID-19 cases in a three-week period. On Tuesday, May 19, Inslee announced that he was expanding the criteria allowing counties to apply for variances to the state’s reopening plan and including Adams County on the list of counties that could then apply.

In Phase 2 of Inslee’s reopening plan, limited opening of restaurants, salons, barbershops and retail outlets is allowed. To be able to open, counties can only have approximately 0.71 positive cases per 100,000 residents per day, or the equivalent of five cases per 100,000 residents a week.

Charles H. Featherstone contributed to this report.

Rachal Pinkerton may be reached via email at rpinkerton@suntribunenews.com.