Updates in King County

King County’s COVID-19 plan.


Art By Kien-Binh Vo

In hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19, the Safe Start plan was implemented on May 5th by Governor Jay Inslee to reduce daily social interactions. Essential activities and businesses remain open such as grocery stores and pharmacies, but other recreations and services were forced to temporarily close down.

The plan has four phases, each with different limitations and restrictions. Schools, work places, and communities in King County are affected by these limitations and only enter a new phase when criteria are met and Washington’s Secretary of Health considers it safe enough.

Washington State entered Phase 2 of the Safe Start plan on June 19th. Under this phase, activities outdoor recreation, and gatherings with five or fewer people outside of your household are allowed. Indoor fitness spaces and religious services can operate in 25 percent capacity with social distancing. Libraries, movie theaters, and restaurants, funerals, and wedding venues have opened at limited capacity and oftentimes only through appointments. Photography, retail, pet grooming, museums, aquariums, zoos, personal, and professional services have opened with set guidelines dictated by the specific establishment. Essential travel, as well as travel for the activities open under phase two, is also allowed.

But on July 28th, Governor Inslee had to put his plan on hold because Washington was seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases due to reopening. The target goal is 25 cases in every 100,000 individuals for two weeks and since we had not met that goal, the pause continued indefinitely across all of Washington’s counties.

Washington is now seeing another rise in cases and on November 14th, Governor Inslee announced new restrictions on social gatherings. On Monday, November 16, indoor gathering and outdoor gathering restrictions will be in place. 

Restaurants and bars will shut down in-person dining and be limited to takeout and delivery. Fitness centers, gyms, bowling alleys, and movie theaters will be closed while grocery stores, personal services, religious services, and retail can only operate at very limited capacity. Indoor social gatherings with people outside your household are prohibited unless participants quarantine for two weeks prior to the event, or they test negative and quarantine for one week prior. Outdoor gatherings are limited to only five people outside your household per week. 

The whole country is eagerly awaiting a vaccine, but because Seattle was one of the first cities to report a COVID-19 case, King County Councilman Reagan Dunn is advocating for increased availability and access to a vaccine once it is produced. 

King County officials have launched free COVID-19 contact tracing and testing at many locations around King County. Cities that offer free test sites include Auburn, Tukwila, Federal Way, Renton, Seattle, Bellevue, White Center, Kent, and Duvall. For information visit https://kingcounty.gov/depts/health/covid-19.aspx