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Washington state stops counties from moving to full reopening as coronavirus cases rise


Washington State Governor Jay Inslee announces measures to help contain the spread of coronavirus at a press conference on March 11, 2020 in Seattle, Washington.

John Moore | Getty Images

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced on Saturday that the state would halt some of its counties from moving into the next phase of reopening as the coronavirus shows signs of accelerating. 

“Rising cases across the state and concerns about continued spread of the COVID virus have made Phase 4, which would essentially mean no restrictions, impossible at this time,” according to the state’s order from Inslee and John Wiesman, Washington’s secretary of health. 

Washington state is taking a phrased approach to reopening, allowing some counties to reopen before others. “Phase 4” of the state’s reopening plan would resume all recreational activities and would allow for gatherings of more than 50 people, according to the state’s plan. It would also allow people at high risk of serious illness to resume public interactions with physical distancing. 

A county in phase 4 would also be allowed to reopen its nightclubs, concert venues and large sporting events, according to the state’s plan. Eight of the state’s 39 counties were prepared to move into phase 4, according to the order. 

On Tuesday, Inslee joined a handful of other states by requiring people to wear face coverings when in public spaces. 

Washington is one of 34 states across the U.S. where coronavirus cases are growing by 5% or more, based on a seven-day moving average, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data. 

The state has reported an average of 465 additional new cases over the last seven days, an increase of nearly 34% compared with a week ago, according to Hopkins data. 

Other states with growing case numbers and hospitalizations from Covid-19 have either paused or rolled back some of their reopening plans.

On Friday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced the state would close its bars and reduce the capacity for indoor dining at its restaurants, among other modifications and closures, as cases and hospitalizations continue to climb. 

Florida also closed bars across the state. On Saturday, the state’s department of health recorded its second consecutive day of record coronavirus cases. 

San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced on Friday that the city would delay its reopenings planned for Monday, which included nail salons, barbershops and outdoor bars, as the coronavirus shows signs of accelerating in California. 



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