Four regions in Washington State under Governor Jay Inslee’s random “Roadmap to Recovery” should be moved forward to Phase 2, if only the state used more accurate data. This is the disturbing finding of a new report from the Washington Policy Center.
The four impacted regions are East, North Central, South Central, and Puget Sound. Thus, residents in nearly all of Eastern Washington and in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties, should be allowed to increase activities (i.e., indoor dining and entertainment could resume) if the state used current information and also eliminated a meaningless criteria.
The governor’s plan uses four metrics to determine each region’s phase:
1) trend in case rate.
2) trend in hospital admissions rate.
3) percent Intensive Care Unit (ICU) capacity.
4) percent of COVID tests that are positive.
The first problem is that the data the state is using for the first criteria (“trend in case rate”) is two or three weeks old. This old data is keeping all of the state’s regions in Phase 1, while current data is more positive and would allow a few regions to move to Phase 2.
The second problem is with the significance of fourth criteria (“percent of COVID tests that are positive”). This rate is meaningless for it is more of an indicator of the number of people tested, then in how far the virus has spread in a community. In order to move to Phase 2 under the fourth criteria, a region needs to have less than 10% infection rate OF THOSE TESTED.
As we have seen often around the state, local officials can manipulate this result by simply increasing the number of those tested with people who are less likely to have the virus. Last Fall, the Chelan/Douglas (Wenatchee area) health officials were not shy about encouraging more healthy people to receive free tests in order to drive their local numbers down so Chelan and Douglas counties could move out of the old Phase I.
Unfortunately, this irrelevant benchmark is currently having a major impact on the state’s economy.
By using old data and using meaningless criteria, the state is preventing the re-opening of restaurants, bars, theaters, and museums and thousands of Washington State residents remain unemployed.