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News >  Spokane

Spokane City Council considers backing county push for ease on restrictions

UPDATED: Tue., May 12, 2020

Spokane City Council member Breean Beggs, shown here last October, supports a resolution that would address how to reopen the Spokane economy. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Spokane City Council member Breean Beggs, shown here last October, supports a resolution that would address how to reopen the Spokane economy. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Identify, contain and prevent future coronavirus infections.

That’s the priority laid out by the Spokane City Council in a proposed resolution that addresses the city’s path to fully reopening its economy under Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start Washington plan.

The resolution is nonbinding, and the Spokane City Council does not have authority to apply for a variance from the governor’s order. Three of its members, however, are on the Spokane County Board of Health, which plays a role in that process.

The resolution lays out several pillars the council would like as restrictions on Spokane’s economy are eased, which it says can be done before the rest of Washington state.

The resolution was sponsored by Council President Breean Beggs and is tentatively slated for a May 18 vote. It could be taken up as early as Thursday, however. It was discussed publicly for the first time Monday at a meeting of the council’s Urban Experience Committee.

The resolution is under consideration by the council as the county moves forward with a request for a variance in the Safe Start Washington plan that, if granted, would allow Spokane to move from Phase 1 to Phase 2 in the governor’s reopening plan.

If passed, the council would call for substantial COVID-19 testing, a robust network of contact tracers, sufficient access to personal protective equipment, and reopening of private and public child care centers.

The proposal strongly endorses Inslee’s phased reopening plan but notes that Spokane has never reached the capacity of its hospitals and, specifically, intensive care units.

It also notes that Spokane residents are as vulnerable to the disease as those in counties that have seen far higher rates of the disease, including Yakima County, which has among the highest rates of COVID-19 per capita of any county in the western United States.

The council’s priorities largely align with those already laid out by Inslee.

Beggs told the council he had agreed to wait until at least Thursday to take action on the resolution while the county embarks on its variance request, which he expressed support for and said has been a “very public-health oriented process.”

“I think it can only help the process if the city weighs in,” Beggs said.

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