Submitted by Lewis County Public Health & Social Services

Lewis County Public Health & Social Services (LCPHSS) submitted Lewis County’s Phase 2 COVID-19 Variance Request application to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) today. The Lewis County Board of Health and the Board of County Commissioners approved the application in separate actions.

In the first action, Board of Health member Gary Stamper moved to approve submitting the application. Board member Bobby Jackson seconded, saying, “I’ve never been so happy to second a motion in my life.” Board Chair Edna Fund added her vote for a unanimous decision to proceed. The vote was again unanimous at a follow-up Commissioners’ meeting.

Once Lewis County was deemed eligible to apply for a Phase 2 variance, the first requirement from DOH was a letter from Lewis County Health Officer Rachel Wood, M.D., MPH recommending application for Phase 2. Dr. Wood said, “I was very happy to write that letter of recommendation to initiate this process. I believe Lewis County is ready to take this important next step.”

In addition to Dr. Wood’s recommendation, the 100-page application contains detailed information about Lewis County’s COVID-19 capabilities. Additional content describes how, in concert with essential community healthcare, business, and non-profit partners, Lewis County will take care of any COVID-19 cases that may arise. Letters of support from elected officials and business reopening plans round out the application.

When LCPHSS Director J.P. Anderson sent the application to DOH, he acknowledged the tremendous amount of efforts all across the county that made it possible. “It’s a culmination of every resident in Lewis County doing their part to keep neighbors safe and all the hard work by so many in our community. Lewis County has risen to challenge of COVID-19 and will continue to do so. This isn’t the end, but it is the end of the beginning.”

County Manager Erik Martin said he was pleased with the application and effort behind it, saying, “Lewis County Public Health and Social Services has done an amazing job responding to COVID-19 throughout the entire shutdown. They continue to take an informed and holistic approach to our community’s overall health by preparing and endorsing this application.”

Washington Secretary of Health John Wiesman has acknowledged receipt of Lewis County’s application. There is no word on when a decision will be made.

The entire application is available online at: https://bit.ly/Phase2Application.

People can stay informed by following the Lewis County COVID-19 web page at covid19.lewiscountywa.gov,  @LCPHSS on Twitter, or www.facebook.com/lcphss.

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