In the middle of the third, rebranded shutdown, some have had enough. Reopen everything Feb 26th.

OKANOGAN COUNTY – If only Washington State used more accurate data, there would be a total of four regions in the state under Governor Jay Inslee’s arbitrary “Roadmap to Recovery” that would have moved forward to Phase 2 in what is now the Governor’s third, rebranded shutdown. This is the disturbing finding of a new report from the Washington Policy Center.

The four qualifying 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 – still with some limits) if the state used current information and also eliminated a meaningless, and easily manipulated, criteria.

As part of the North Central region, Okanogan County would qualify to be under the less restrictive “Phase 2” rules right now. Instead, in what seems to many to be an incredibly political and unscientific move, only two west-side regions, including several of the most densely-populated urban counties in the state, were promoted to Phase 2. Those seven counties are about half of the state’s population.

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 was 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, than 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 already seen around the state, it’s a very game-able stat. It’s not overly hard for local officials to 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 COVID-19 tests in order to drive their local numbers down so Chelan and Douglas counties could move out of the old Phase I shutdown.

There’s also a high potential for bimonthly closure whiplash to businesses as well, being open for a period and then closed for a period if some stats began trending the wrong way. This introduces a lot of unpredictability for small businesses who need to plan further ahead for their employees, and even the survival of their businesses.

This is bad public policy, justified by bad data. But it seems that we should play the game as it exists, and manipulate our own data metrics so that we can lift some of the most severe restrictions on our own businesses sooner.


In the middle of the third, rebranded shutdown, some have had enough. Reopen everything Feb 26th.
In the middle of the third, rebranded shutdown, some have had enough. Reopen everything Feb 26th.
Log in to comment