Commission to vote Friday on ‘Phase 2’ of reopening county

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County commissioners are expected to vote May 22 on the public health officer’s recommendation to move to Phase 2 of the governor’s “Safe Start” reopening plan.

Commissioners Kate Dean, Greg Brotherton and David Sullivan will meet virtually at 2:30 p.m. to vote. The meeting will be streamed on the county website.

The commissioners can only approve or deny the recommendations; they cannot make any changes.

If the commissioners approve these recommendations, the county will send an application to the state Department of Health asking for a variance to the “Safe Start” plan. It will have to be approved by Health Secretary John Weisman.

Ten counties have already moved to Phase 2, and Gov. Jay Inslee announced May 19 another 10 counties qualified to apply for the Phase 2 variance.

The state is currently in Phase 1 of the governor’s “Safe Start” plan, which requires most businesses remain closed unless they are deemed  “essential.”

Once approved by Weisman, Jefferson County can open certain businesses several weeks before the rest of the state is expected to move to Phase 2.

After a nearly three-hour discussion May 14, the Board of Health approved recommendations made by public health officer Tom Locke. Business activities that can reopen include manufacturing, some new aspects of construction, domestic services and office-based businesses.

He also recommended reopening outdoor recreation involving fewer than five people — excluding overnight camping — and reopening nail and hair salons, barber shops and pet-grooming services for local clients only.

He did not recommend opening restaurants with sit-down service, real estate offices or professional services related to tourism.

The board of health and Locke discussed adding the drive-in theater in Port Townsend to the list of businesses that could open, so high schools in Jefferson County can hold “drive-in” graduation ceremonies.

The board also discussed adding language to the recommendation to clarify businesses can only service local, existing clients, in hope of discouraging tourists and visitors from outside counties.

The board will meet May 21 to discuss final changes to the recommendations before the commissioners vote. This meeting will take place virtually at 2:30 p.m. and will be streamed on the county’s website.

Public comments are still being accepted. They can be emailed to boh@co.jefferson.wa.us for consideration in the board’s deliberations.

New cases

County officials are forging ahead with the plan to apply for a Phase 2 variance, despite two new confirmed cases in Jefferson County.

The county now has had 30 coronavirus cases, but the last two were confirmed to have been infected in March and early April.

The latest, confirmed on May 18, was a Jefferson County resident who was living in Arizona at the time of infection, according to Locke.

The other, a woman over the age of 90, was given an antibody test, which helped health officials determine she was infected in March.

“Based on our investigation of that case, we had reason to believe that it might be an old case, that the infection had occurred weeks or months ago,” Locke said.

According to Locke, the patient and her caretaker both had the antibodies for COVID-19.

Antibodies are a protein used by the body’s immune system to neutralize pathogens such as a virus, like the coronavirus.

The caretaker had a negative test for the virus, leading health officials to believe both the patient and the caretaker had been infected in March, when there were more transmissions within the community.

“The patient who tested positive last week is one of the people we’re seeing more and more of,” Locke said. “A person with a positive test can shed low levels of the virus for six to eight weeks after they are infected. We have good evidence that they’re not infectious even though we can detect the virus in their nasal secretions.”

The patient has recovered from the illness, Locke said.

Given the fact this recent infection occurred in the latter part of March, Jefferson County has not seen any new transmissions for five weeks.

“That’s not because we’re not doing a lot of testing,” he said. “The hospital has gotten up to 60 tests in a day. We are doing the amount of testing we want to be doing in the county and we are not finding anyone with infection.”

This also shows there is no evidence an increase of tourism to the county is driving local infection, Locke said.

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HarveyW

Every thinking person who understands law and due legal process needs to read the City Manager's (not through appropriate full City Council vote) plan to use the Covid 19 situation to facilitate his boss's, appointed Mayor Michell Sandoval, of Windermere Realty's parking chaos agenda going back years. This is a new wrinkle to less parking and more abuse, done by those who simply do not have to follow law and process. As myself and others grapple with the decision to stay or fold our businesses, this happens.

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HTTPS://CITYOFPT.US/ADMINISTRATION/PAGE/CITY-PILOT-OPEN-STREET-INITIATIVES

Below is my letter to 3 time Appointed Mayor Sandoval, City Manager turned dictator Mauro and silent so far Council. You, the public allow this. The city manager does not set policy. At least not following the law and structure of City Government. No public input. None.

The press release by City Manager Mauro explaining his logic regarding

closure of some historic streets to vehicles leaves questions. The loss of

dozens of spaces on top of those many dozens lost due to years long non

enforcement of 2 hour zones will not aid in any kind of recovery. It will

hinder it. Public safety will not be enhanced. Messaging and sanitation

will enhance safety.

Will parking enforcement finally be implemented, or will another layer of

damage to a recovery be painted as helpful. Public input would have been

nice. There was no mention of parking in Mr. Mauro's press release.

This is an opportunity to implement what has been in some peoples minds, a

vehicle free or drastically vehicle reduced historic district that

magically continues to function economically. Now without Park and Ride

being the safest alternative.

Bam. Mauro's no public input dictatorial move is significant leap under

the cover of Covid 19. It absolutely further defines his role and methods

to me.

Remember, the appointed mayor has her own parking lot. And might benefit

from specific changes in the historic district as a realtor, may have

already.

There was no public input. I have joked for months that if the city wanted

to limit any "outsider" visits (and local, as collateral damage) they

could just keep the system they have and encourage local business and

residents to take even more limited parking. That parking anarchy pilot

program has gone on for over 5 years. To a wall of silence.

It also seems that park and ride exposes more folks to virus contact, and

the plan in place seems to leave park and ride as an only option on many

days in the near future.

Mr. Mauro states the City does not want to encourage people to visit

restaurants and shops, "people shouldn't flock to Port Townsend to shop or

eat." He has absolutely no control of that. Yet the plan is to make space

for more people to sit and eat, allegedly benefiting eateries, but taking

parking they need. The plan discriminates against my business and others,

taking space for one kind of business at the expense of others. "Here is a

place to sit and distance. Sorry you can't use it because you couldn't

find parking."

Genius. No public input. No assessing the need in real time. Just do it.

Mauro "But this reduction in usual traffic flows and gatherings allows us

a chance to reinvent the streetscape for residents who want and need a bit

of space to safely stretch their legs or to eat their lunch." Note the use

of "residents", not visitors or customers. I don't see reduction in

gatherings when the policy creates places to stay and loiter. Places that

must be maintained with disinfectant.

The public is fully able to find space on their own. Other enhancement

options are available. Open up the ballfield appropriately to eat and

picnic. Instead, access and parking are eliminated after the economic

drought.

Finally, promises made when the curb bump outs eliminated motorcycle

spaces have not been fulfilled. No new spots are painted or defined. I had

a nice polite conversation (at distance) with a biker who blocked my exit

last week, he turned out to own a gallery on Orcas that is also shut down.

No yellow stripes after construction at my exit. The arrows on one way

Adams are faded and we still see several cars a day head in the wrong way

even with signage. The arrows are needed bigger and brighter. Time to

paint and honor promises.

By the way the rain garden is full of tree droppings and growing weeds.

The grate is partially covered. More shedding to come. Wait until fall. I

assured all involved during planning and design I would have to bring this

up. Someone will fall in, probably backing up for social distancing.

Public input. Or, Totalitarian Fascist changes without recourse?

Mauro's press release is a clue.

Harvey Windle Now with even more Collateral Damage

Forest Gems Gallery

Wednesday, May 20