Washington Gov. Inslee moves Pierce, Whitman, Cowlitz Counties back to Phase 2; start of basketball season could be in jeopardy

Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced Monday three counties — Pierce County, Cowlitz County and Whitman County — will move back to Phase 2 in the state’s reopening plan after an increase of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Inslee said the counties will be reassessed in three weeks, on May 3.

High risk high school sports in those three counties – like basketball and wrestling – could be in jeopardy of starting their seasons on time.

Since the Washington State Department of Health deemed basketball, cheerleading, dance/drill and wrestling in the “high risk” for spread and transmission of the virus, counties will need to be in Phase 3 in order for those sports to begin playing. Some leagues around the state have made calendar changes, but the WIAA’s third condensed 2021 season is set to begin on May 2.

All counties across the state previously moved to Phase 3 on March 11. In order to remain in Phase 3, counties must log fewer than 200 new COVID cases per 100,000 people over 14 days, and fewer than 5 hospitalizations per 100,000 people over seven days.

Under Phase 2, indoor K-12 school athletic events can hold 200 spectators or 25 percent capacity — whichever is less. Those numbers include anyone present, from fans, to athletes and staff. Outdoor events will be capped at 200.

WIAA spokesperson Casey Johnnson said he is not aware of any changes to the phased guidelines and schools in those three counties will simply operate under Phase 2 guidelines.

RELATED LINKS:

Read the full DOH report HERE.

Read the state’s COVID-19 spectator requirements HERE.

WIAA season calendar HERE.

The New York Times’ Washington state COVID tracker HERE.

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