COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
COVID-19 (Coronavirus; CDC graphic)

It’s time for anoth­er install­ment of of our spe­cial series COVID-19 Update, bring­ing you the lat­est devel­op­ments on the nov­el coro­n­avirus out­break that pub­lic health author­i­ties here and across the coun­try are work­ing to mitigate.


On Fri­day, May 29th, Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee announced an expan­sion of the state’s reopen­ing pro­gram, dubbed “Safe Start,” along with the ces­sa­tion of the prin­ci­pal stay home, stay healthy order that was issued back in March (although a num­ber of relat­ed procla­ma­tions were extend­ed to June 17th).

As of Mon­day, June 1st, any coun­ty not in Phase I may apply to the state Sec­re­tary of Health to move to the next phase of the four-step plan beyond which they are cur­rent­ly set. Any coun­ty present­ly in Phase I would have to first apply for a “mod­i­fied” Phase I sta­tus, which allows some Phase II activ­i­ties, depen­dent on the sta­tus of the apply­ing county.

At present, twen­ty-six coun­ties in Wash­ing­ton state are at Phase II status.

Sno­homish Coun­ty Exec­u­tive Dave Somers will apply to move direct­ly into Phase II, in spite of Sno­homish Coun­ty’s poor test­ing and con­tact trac­ing num­bers and exces­sive num­ber of new dai­ly cas­es, mak­ing it less like­ly to qual­i­fy for Phase II than most oth­er coun­ties in the state.

Also announced by the Gov­er­nor were new statewide guide­lines regard­ing the use of face­masks in the work­place, effec­tive June 8th.

Dr. Ming Lin, a doc­tor fired in late March from St. Joseph Med­ical Cen­ter in Belling­ham for crit­i­ciz­ing the facility’s response to the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, filed a law­suit on Thurs­day, May 28th, against his for­mer employ­er.

The suit wrong­ful ter­mi­na­tion, breach of con­tract, dis­crim­i­na­tion, defama­tion and inflic­tion of emo­tion­al stress.


On Tues­day, May 26th, Bak­er Coun­ty Cir­cuit Court judge Matthew Shirt­cliff, in response to the Ore­gon state Supreme Court request­ing fur­ther expla­na­tion as to his rul­ing that Gov­er­nor Kate Brown’s stay at home order was no longer valid, or to allow for argu­ments by both sides to take place as part of a larg­er process, refused to vacate his May 18th deci­sion in a three sen­tence response.

The Ore­gon Depart­ment of Jus­tice and the group of church­es that are part of the request to vacate the stay at home order will instead argue their case before the state Supreme Court, which stayed Judge Shirtcliff’s deci­sion on May 18th.

The state Depart­ment of Jus­tice filed a brief with the Supreme Court on Thurs­day, May 28th, which focus­es on leg­isla­tive tes­ti­mo­ny from 2003, where the state’s then pub­lic health offi­cer described the pub­lic health emer­gency bill used as part of the stay at home order was an “addi­tion­al” tool to com­pli­ment, rather than replace, sep­a­rate emer­gency powers.

On Thurs­day, May 28th, Wash­ing­ton Coun­ty, imme­di­ate­ly south­west of the Port­land met­ro­pol­i­tan area, was approved to move toward Phase 1 of the Reopen­ing Ore­gon plan. This leaves Mult­nom­ah Coun­ty, which includes Port­land, as the only state not yet qual­i­fied for Phase 1 sta­tus. Wash­ing­ton Coun­ty was where the first case of COVID-19 was diag­nosed in Ore­gon on Feb­ru­ary 28th.

On Fri­day, May 31st, Gov­er­nor Kate Brown fired state Employ­ment Depart­ment direc­tor Kay Erick­son as a result of delays in the pro­cess­ing of appli­ca­tions for unem­ploy­ment and in the deliv­ery of unem­ploy­ment ben­e­fits to those who had lost their jobs in the wake of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic. In 2009, the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment gave the state more than $85 mil­lion to update the department’s IT infra­struc­ture, but most of that mon­ey is in a state trust fund and lit­tle has been done by the depart­ment to com­plete its task.


On May 22nd, fifty employ­ees at Rite Stuff Foods, a pota­to proces­sor in Jerome, and forty-five employ­ees at Ida-Beef, a slaugh­ter­house in Bur­ley, test­ed pos­i­tive for COVID-19. All employ­ees were test­ed at Rite Stuff in response, while only symp­to­matic employ­ees at Ida-Beef were test­ed at Minido­ka Memo­r­i­al Hospital.

The Ida-Beef facil­i­ty has been closed until at least June 1st due to a “staffing short­age.” Both cas­es were con­firmed by the Ida­ho South Cen­tral Pub­lic Health Dis­trict on Tues­day, May 26th.

Almost all of the employ­ees affect­ed iden­ti­fy as Lati­no or His­pan­ic.

On May 28th, Gov­er­nor Brad Lit­tle decid­ed to ini­ti­ate Phase III of his state reopen­ing plan, Ida­ho Rebounds, which start­ed on Sat­ur­day, May 30th.

Bars and movie the­aters will be allowed to open.

When asked about the lat­ter, Gov­er­nor Lit­tle replied “I would much rather start some­thing a lit­tle ear­li­er than have to delay things to a lat­er point in time.”

That same day, by a 2–1 vote, the Bon­ner Coun­ty board of Com­mis­sion­ers passed a procla­ma­tion oppos­ing Phase II of the Ida­ho Rebounds reopen­ing plan, stat­ing that it is too broad in scope and too ambigu­ous, thus unconstitutional.

In their con­clu­sion, they state that “this order’s overuti­liza­tion-pre­ven­tion and trans­mis­sion-pre­ven­tion objec­tives are uncon­sti­tu­tion­al and repli­cate meth­ods used in com­mand-and-con­trol soci­eties such as China.”

On Sat­ur­day, May 29th, the Ida­ho States­man news­pa­per sent a let­ter to the Ida­ho Depart­ment of Health and Wel­fare, threat­en­ing to sue the depart­ment if records regard­ing coro­n­avirus out­breaks in nurs­ing home and long term care facil­i­ties aren’t made avail­able. The depart­ment refused a pub­lic records request made by the States­man on May 21st. Nev­er­the­less, the States­man believes it has con­firmed the names of four­teen facil­i­ties that have had COVID-19 out­breaks, and that as many as twen­ty-two facil­i­ties have had outbreaks.

The hard, cold numbers

Wash­ing­ton state has had 22,471 cas­es and 1,126 attrib­ut­able deaths.

360,899 peo­ple have been tested.

Ore­gon has had 4,253 cas­es and 153 attrib­ut­able deaths.

129,201 peo­ple have been tested.

Ida­ho has had 2,839 cas­es and 82 attrib­ut­able deaths.

46,697 peo­ple have been tested.

British Colum­bia has had 2,562 cas­es and 164 attrib­ut­able deaths.

141,392 peo­ple have been tested.

Adjacent posts

One reply on “COVID-19 Update: Pacific Northwest states gingerly move forward with reopening plans”

  1. We need to reopen safe­ly. Every­one should be wear­ing a mask when they go out, full stop. Don’t under­stand why there are peo­ple who want to put them­selves in dan­ger by not wear­ing one. 

Comments are closed.