State Didn’t Consult Counties, Health Districts, With New COVID Plan
According to a report in the Yakima Herald Republic (Monday Jan. 18) apparently Gov. Inslee's new Healthy Washington restart plan came as a surprise.
The Washington State Association of Counties (WSAC) and the Washington State Association of Local Public Health Officials (WSAPHC) both say there was no collaboration between them and the Department of Health prior to the implementation of Inslee's new plan.
According to a letter sent to the new Washington State Secretary of Health Umair A. Shah, WSAC Executive Director Eric Johnson said “I would just say we were not included in the collaboration or construction of a plan to present to the governor."
According to the letter, the plan was presented to county health officials in two 1-hour informational sessions with no advance warning or materials. The letter went on to say:
“In particular, the establishment of regions and metrics for the plan without consultation or meaningful engagement with local public health has failed to garner statewide support. Unfortunately, this plan has created confusion, divisiveness, and, in some instances, undermined our public health work."
The letter also says WSDOH inaccurately portrayed this new plan to the public as being widely supported. The letter sent to the Health Secretary strongly disagreed with that perception:
“We adamantly disagree that there has been consistent collaboration by DOH and the state with counties and local health jurisdictions."
Johnson told the Herald Republic there was plenty of time between Inslee's Nov. 15 lockdown and January to form a revised re open plan, if that's what Health Dept. officials felt was necessary. But that collaboration never happened.
DOH officials told the newspaper they are reviewing the letter and determining the next steps to remedy these concerns.
Healthy Washington is a repackaged version of Inslee's failed Safe Start Program from 2020. That plan sputtered to a halt in late fall, with all but a handful of counties mired inbetween Phase 1.5, or 'modified' Phase 1.5 and Phase 2. A few counties, such as Columbia, Garfield and others, were in Phase 3 and wanted to petition to Phase 4 but that never happened.
The only differences between Safe Start and Healthy Washington is the state is now split up into 8 regions, lumping counties with low cases in with higher ones. DOH claiims they have a lot more data metrics they can use now, but in the eyes of the public--as well as many county, local, and business leaders--this new plan is a re-hash of a plan that never came close to working.
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