Washington is on track to meet its goal of getting 70% of residents 16 and older at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the month.
As of now, the state will reopen on June 30, unless 70% of the population gets at least one vaccine dose before that date. If the goal is achieved, the state will open “essentially immediately,” Gov. Jay Inslee said.
Inslee said Wednesday the state is “really close” to reopening, but isn’t there yet.
Currently, 66.4% of people who are 16 or older have at least one dose in Washington.
That number includes 152,000 vaccinations given at Department of Defense or Department of Veterans Affairs locations, which were not previously included in the Department of Health’s database.
When the state does reopen, industries may return to normal operations without social distancing or capacity limits, but businesses will have to follow applicable mask guidance, Inslee said.
For venues that hold 10,000 people or more, capacity will be limited to 75%.
Other Washington coronavirus updates from Wednesday
- Businesses have the option to allow employees who are fully vaccinated and verified by their employer to work without a mask, according to Brian Haight with the Washington Department of Labor and Industries.
- “If (employees) refuse to verify or haven’t been vaccinated, they must continue to wear masks,” Haight said. Businesses and employers can also continue requiring masks for everyone.
- Inslee said the state is working to add vaccine data from the Department of Defense and the VA to the Department of Health’s data, so those vaccinated through those programs could be included in the statewide vaccine lottery announced last week. If the state is unable to get the federal information, Inslee said the state will set up a standalone program for people vaccinated through those programs. “They are owed that, and we want to make sure they get that,” he said. If you have questions about your vaccination records, you can call the statewide hotline (833) VAX-HELP.
- Inslee said vaccination appointments are up slightly since the announcement of the statewide lottery incentive last week. Monday had the largest number of single-day appointments in the past two weeks, and there is an 8% increase in the daily average of vaccinations.
- Vaccine efforts in Spokane County are showing slow but steady progress, with 52% of residents 16 and over having had at least one dose of a vaccine. The state and Spokane County appear to be on the declining side of the fourth surge in cases seen this spring. Even locally, vaccination is playing a role in keeping residents from getting sick enough to need hospitalization. “Those who are not immunized are carrying the burden of hospitalizations right now,” Interim Health Officer Dr. Francisco Velázquez told reporters Wednesday.
Here’s a look at local numbers
The Spokane Regional Health District confirmed 73 new cases on Wednesday in Spokane County and one additional death.
There have been 654 deaths due to COVID-19 in Spokane County residents.
There are 58 people hospitalized with the virus in Spokane.
The Panhandle Health District confirmed 25 new COVID-19 cases and no additional deaths.
There are 27 Panhandle residents hospitalized with the virus.
Arielle Dreher's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.
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