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News >  Spokane

Spokane City Council considers backing Inslee’s phased plan without rejecting sooner reopening

UPDATED: Fri., May 8, 2020

Kim Schmidt, right, talks to the media about the mobile display of wooden crosses on Monday, outside Spokane City Hall where members of the Facebook group Stronger Together Spokane set them up to illustrate the Spokane death toll of COVID-19, in response to others demanding an end to shutdown. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Kim Schmidt, right, talks to the media about the mobile display of wooden crosses on Monday, outside Spokane City Hall where members of the Facebook group Stronger Together Spokane set them up to illustrate the Spokane death toll of COVID-19, in response to others demanding an end to shutdown. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

The Spokane City Council is considering a resolution that would “strongly endorse” Gov. Jay Inslee’s four-phase plan for reopening the state.

That includes the opportunity to apply for a variance from the timeline laid out in Inslee’s SafeStart Washington plan if the region demonstrates, based on local data, the ability to contain the spread of the virus.

The resolution was drafted by Spokane City Council President Breean Beggs and will be reviewed by the council’s Urban Experience Committee on Monday. It likely will be considered by the council on May 18.

In the meantime, Beggs is open to public input, calling the resolution Spokane’s opportunity to weigh in on the reopening plan.

The proposal was drafted as local elected officials, including Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward, propose a regional reopening plan to Inslee next week. The officials are looking to have Spokane jump ahead from Phase 1 of Inslee’s plan, which began this week, into Phase 2, which would allow more businesses to open.

“Several people are working on a request to the governor for a variance. This is the City Council’s time to invite public comment and engagement on what the parameters of that variance request should be,” Beggs said. “It’s just kind of the opening conversation.”

Although it states Spokane businesses and employees are “ready to get back to work,” Beggs’ resolution calls for specific criteria in order to move forward that aligns with the standards already laid out by Inslee. They include sufficient access to adequate testing and a team of contact tracers that can investigate possible contacts of people diagnosed with COVID-19.

The proposal also calls for follow-through on two concepts Beggs already has publicly proposed – a centralized system through which businesses can procure personal protective equipment and a public health expert to help consult businesses on safety procedures and best practices.

Child care is the fifth and final component of the resolution, which calls for private and public child care centers to reopen and provide adequate service to all those who need it.

The resolution states that Spokane residents are “just as vulnerable,” as those in counties that have seen a higher number of COVID-19 cases, including Yakima, Benton and Franklin.

The resolution is nonbinding and only lays out the council’s priorities – it would not force the mayor to take any specific action.

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