County Explains Increased Vaccine Eligibility and Reopening

Posted March 19, 2021 at 5:00 am by

Contributed Image/CDC

From San Juan County

As most are aware until now vac­cine eli­gi­bil­i­ty has pri­mar­i­ly been lim­it­ed to med­ical providers, K‑12 and child care providers, and those over the age of 65.

As of March 17, eli­gi­bil­i­ty has been expand­ed to the fol­low­ing groups (Phase 1b, Tier 2):

  • Those who are preg­nant and over the age of 16 (here is more infor­ma­tion on this sub­ject from CDC)
  • Those with a high-risk dis­abil­i­ty, includ­ing Down syn­drome, an intel­lec­tu­al or devel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ty, deaf, or blind.
  • In addi­tion, the fol­low­ing groups of essen­tial work­ers are now eli­gi­ble (full details are here.)
  • Work­ers in gro­cery stores/food banks who have a high-vol­ume inter­ac­tion with co-workers.
  • Staff in court and cor­rec­tions facilities.
  • First respon­ders who have not pre­vi­ous­ly been vaccinated.
  • Pub­lic Tran­sit providers who oper­ate vans, taxis, air­craft, etc. with four or more pas­sen­gers for more than 3 or more hours per day. Office staff is not included.
  • Con­gre­gate agri­cul­tur­al work­ers or food-pro­cess­ing employ­ees (includ­ing those work­ing in the seafood indus­try) who work in envi­ron­ments that involve high-vol­ume inter­ac­tion with co-work­ers for extend­ed peri­ods in sit­u­a­tions with­out the abil­i­ty to social­ly distance.

It is impor­tant to note that the fol­low­ing groups are not eli­gi­ble in Tier 2:

  • Essen­tial work­ers for work set­tings not specif­i­cal­ly men­tioned above, includ­ing restau­rants, util­i­ties, gov­ern­ment, con­struc­tion, etc.
  • Those with high-risk med­ical con­di­tions who do not have one of the high-risk dis­abil­i­ties list­ed above.
  • Agri­cul­tur­al work­ers who work in set­tings with low inter­ac­tion with co-work­ers and/or who are able to main­tain social dis­tanc­ing. The pri­ma­ry goal of the agri­cul­tur­al work­er eli­gi­bil­i­ty tier is to vac­ci­nate those work­ing shoul­der to shoul­der in high-den­si­ty large-scale food pro­duc­tion operations.

There are still a num­ber of 65 and old­er San Juan Coun­ty res­i­dents who have yet to be vac­ci­nat­ed. As always, islanders should be thought­ful in their deci­sion-mak­ing around whether they are eli­gi­ble to receive a vac­ci­na­tion. The focus should always be on those who are clear­ly eligible.

  • The vac­cine effort is mov­ing ahead with speed, and cur­rent esti­mates are that eli­gi­bil­i­ty will be opened to any­one who wants the vac­cine by April 30. Clear­ly, that time­line could change, but it is an encour­ag­ing sign as we look ahead.
  • Gov­er­nor Inslee recent­ly announced that on March 22, all of Wash­ing­ton would be mov­ing to Phase 3 in the reopen­ing plan. Many of the details and sup­port­ing doc­u­ments are still under devel­op­ment by the State, but a gen­er­al overview based on what info is avail­able regard­ing the new guid­ance is:
  • Restau­rants, gyms, bowl­ing alleys and oth­er busi­ness­es can oper­ate at 50% capac­i­ty, up from 25%.
  • Table size at restau­rants has increased to 10, with no house­hold restric­tions. Full details for eat­ing and drink­ing estab­lish­ments are avail­able here.
  • Indoor and out­door gath­er­ings are allowed at 50% capac­i­ty, with no more than 400 par­tic­i­pants, so long as phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing and mask require­ments are followed.
  • Out­door sport­ing events can allow spec­ta­tors at 25% of capac­i­ty. This includes pro­fes­sion­al sports teams in Wash­ing­ton. Some exist­ing require­ments around youth sports will be relaxed.

Full guid­ance is still in devel­op­ment but will be avail­able on Governor’s Reopen­ing Guid­ance page once available.

Anoth­er notable change is that the met­rics used to eval­u­ate what phase is active are shift­ing, and the for­mer region­al approach to mea­sur­ing has been scrapped for a coun­ty-spe­cif­ic model.

Eval­u­a­tions will hap­pen every three weeks and the first is sched­uled for April 12. San Juan Coun­ty will need to meet the fol­low­ing met­rics to remain in Phase 3:

  • A 14-day aver­age of less than 30 new cases.
  • A 7‑day aver­age of less than 3 hospitalizations.

If at any point more than 90% of ICU beds across Wash­ing­ton are occu­pied, the entire state will roll back to Phase 2.
These are all wel­come devel­op­ments. With con­tin­ued thought­ful­ness, hope­ful­ly, San Juan Coun­ty and the State of Wash­ing­ton will avoid any increase of cas­es that would lead to a roll­back of these measures.

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Categories: Health & Wellness, Safety

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