Earlier today, Governor Jay Inslee decreed Washington will go from "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" to "Safe Start -- Washington's Phased Reopening." beginning on Monday. Read about that here.

Spurred on by today's announcement, Benton County Administrators have announced their intention to have the Board of County Commissioners consider applying for Benton County to be moved into Phase 2 of Governor Inslee’s Safe Start Washington Phased Reopening Plan.

County of Benton

The Commissioners will discuss and give formal direction on this issue at their next regular Board meeting, to be held on Tuesday, June 2, 2020 at 9 AM.

As of May 28, 2020, Benton County is not considered eligible to apply for Phase 2 under the State guidelines.

“I have been in contact with each Board member individually over the past few weeks, and they believe it is essential that Benton County move into Phase 2 so we can start the path to economic recovery for our struggling local businesses and community members. We can no longer sit and wait – it’s time for us to be able to move forward,” said Jerrod MacPherson, County Administrator.

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If the Board approves, Benton County leaders will work in conjunction with the Benton-Franklin Health District to ensure that Benton County has all the elements necessary to meet Phase 2 requirements. The plan must detail the County's healthcare system readiness, testing, case and contact investigations and the bottom line: do you have the ability to protect high-risk populations?

The decision to apply for a variance will still need to be approved by the Benton-Franklin Health District Board of Health as well as the Benton County Commission. If approved by local agencies, the application will then go to the Benton-Franklin Health District for submission to the Washington Secretary of Health for consideration.

If Benton County is approved to move to Phase 2, avoiding a spike in cases is of paramount importance in order to avoid being pushed back into Phase 1.