Submitted by Thurston County
May 26, 2020
Letter to the Community
Today the Thurston County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to submit our application for a variance to move into Phase 2 of the Governor’s Safe Start Recovery plan for COVID-19. I am anxious to be able to do more in my community after 8 long weeks of mostly being my own company. I did go to work and saw some folks there, but it was just not the same without seeing my social friends, my family, my dancing buddies, and being able to go anywhere, anytime I wanted. Always being aware of what I touched, wearing my face covering when I am out in public, and not hugging and shaking hands have been hard things to get accustomed to. But after two months, I find that being careful has become a habit.
So, what does Phase 2 mean? Assuming that our application is approved by the State Department of Health, being in phase 2 means that a few more businesses can operate following safety and health guidance. People can get together with up to 4 other non-household members (5 total) while still maintaining 6 ft separation. Salons and barber shops can now give us all much-needed haircuts again if they can ensure safe masking and distancing. Restaurants can open to sit down dining at <50% capacity, making sure tables are spaced properly to social distance. Real estate and some office-based professional businesses (like accountants to help file your taxes). The complete guidance for what is permissible under phase 2 can be found at: https://coronavirus.wa.gov/what-you-need-know/safe-start. Additional local information is available at Thurston Strong: http://www.thurstonstrong.org.
Some restrictions have not changed:
- Continue to telework, if possible.
- Persons at high risk or who are vulnerable due to medical conditions, and persons over age 65, should continue to Stay Home, Stay healthy.
- Continue to enjoy the outdoors.
- Continue to limit going out to just essential travel with only a few non-essential, but still local, trips.
- Everyone needs to continue to stay at least 6 feet away from other non-household members.
- Wearing a cloth face covering (mask) is highly encouraged for everyone who can safely do so, especially when you cannot avoid getting closer than 6 feet to someone else.
- I am encouraging places of business to require use of masks for their staff (to protect customers) and for customers (to protect those serving us.)
- Continue to stay home when you are ill. If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, quarantine at home for 14 days after exposure in case you start experiencing symptoms. If you start getting symptoms, call your provider to ask if you should be tested. If you do not have a health care provider, Providence offers drive thru COVID-19 testing in Lacey on Monday-Friday from 9:30am-4:30pm (2555 Marvin Way NE, 98516). Please call before you go 855-776-4362. Continue to stay home for as long as you are ill and until you receive your results.
- WASH YOUR HANDS often, and before you touch your face.
- Take care of your physical and emotional well-being—ask for help if you need it. Resources are available at the Thurston County COVID-19 Mental Health and Coping page.
Remember that not everyone who has COVID-19 has symptoms. We must assume that every person we meet may be contagious. Please continue to take care of our community and each other by social distancing and masking when in public. We need to continue to be vigilant and thoughtful about masking and social distancing. If the State approves Thurston County to move to Phase 2, it will be at least three weeks before we can even consider moving to Phase 3. If our case numbers rise significantly, or people become too relaxed in caring for the community, we may have to return to Phase 1. Shop local and try to stay local. Our local businesses will need our support once they are able to serve us. Remember that recovery is a process. It will take time, and it will continue to take adjustments and sacrifices. We are doing this! Keep it up, Thurston County! Stay strong!!
Diana T. YU, MD, MSPH
Acting Health Officer, Thurston County