File photo of construction near North Bend on Aug. 16. Sound Publishing file photo
                                File photo of construction near North Bend on Aug. 16. Sound Publishing file photo

File photo of construction near North Bend on Aug. 16. Sound Publishing file photo File photo of construction near North Bend on Aug. 16. Sound Publishing file photo

Rural King County mayors want state to let them enter Phase 2

Mayors cite heavy economic damage from prolonged shutdown.

Mayors of small cities around King County are asking the state to allow them to reopen businesses ahead of bigger cities.

Gov. Jay Inslee recently announced a plan to fully reopen the state — county by county — in four phases. Several counties around the state have low enough infection rates that they could begin reopening immediately. Counties that have an infection rate of 10 per 100,000 residents or lower for two weeks can begin opening up some businesses like restaurants and hair salons.

However, King County as a whole remains well above that level.

But there have been requests from mayors of small counties in east King County to reopen. At a May 19 Enumclaw City Council meeting, council members approved a letter to be sent to the governor’s office. The letter argued that the city should be allowed to move to Phase 2.

The cities of North Bend, Snoqualmie, Duvall and Carnation were also expected to sign on to their own letter asking the same of the state.

Enumclaw Mayor Jan Molinaro said the state so far has not authorized them to do so.

“Basically their position is they do not look at giving partial variances. We would have to move as a county, all as one,” he said.

The state’s response was to question how the city would be able to prevent people from other communities from coming to the city to shop. Molinaro said he asked for the same guidance that large stores like Costco and Walmart have received on how to remain open and apply that guidance to small businesses in town.

“I have yet to receive an answer,” Molinaro said.

North Bend Mayor Rob McFarland similarly hopes his city will be allowed to reopen ahead of the county as a whole. In an email, he said North Bend plans on remaining under Phase 1 until the city gets approval to move to the next phase.

“Recently, I came to the conclusion that we are ready to enter Phase 2 and I’m hopeful that the governor will move us to Phase 2 very shortly,” he said. “Should the governor support distinguishing our more rural/geographically separated towns, we would move to the new phase as quickly as practical.”

Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson said the letter being sent by cities in the Snoqualmie Valley is asking the governor to treat smaller, rural cities like rural counties in the state, which are being allowed to proceed to Phase 2. He estimated that if the lockdown continues, the majority of small businesses in his city will be forced to close permanently.

“It’s not as safe as certainly everyone hunkering down at home, but the economic cost is so great that at some point… you’re going to start seeing very unhealthy manifestations of that,” he said.

The three ZIP codes that house North Bend, Snoqualmie and Enumclaw have had a combined 129 cases of positive test results for COVID-19, and 25 people have died. It’s a small slice of the nearly 8,000 positive test results and 552 deaths countywide, according to King County’s COVID-19 tracking dashboard.

A spokesperson for the state Department of Health said in an email that the current criteria for allowing counties to move to Phase 2 is still in effect, and cities are not allowed to open ahead of counties. However, the state is discussing whether that guidance will change on June 1 when Inslee’s original “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order expires.

Dr. Kathy Lofy, the Washington State Department of Health’s State Health Office, said the initial plan was to reopen as a state. But they quickly realized that the differences county to county meant that approach didn’t make sense.

“We haven’t really discussed moving to the city level. That does really complicate things, logistically, because it’s even hard to keep track of 39 counties and what stage everybody is in,” she said. “We’re really committed to the county approach.”

Lofy said she wouldn’t rule out cities being allowed to enter phases ahead of the counties where they are located.

The 10 cases per 100,000 population for a two-week period requirement to reopen comes from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations. Lofy said moving forward, the state may not use the same criteria.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@kirklandreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kirklandreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
Politicians get pay raises, state workers get furloughs

A citizens panel approved the hikes in 2019. Unable to rescind them, lawmakers look to donate their extra earnings.

Human remains in West Seattle identified

Bags of body parts were found in a suitcase along a West Seattle beach on June 19.

Governor Jay Inslee smiles and laughs Sept. 3, 2019, during a speech at the Lynnwood Link Extension groundbreaking in Lynnwood. A Thurston County judge ruled he exceeded his authority when he vetoed single sentences in the state transportation budget in 2019. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)
Judge invalidates Gov. Inslee’s veto in roads budget

Lawmakers said the governor crossed a constitutional line.

King County cases among younger adults drives increase in COVID-19 numbers

Over half of all new cases are among people ages 20-39

Kirkland man found guilty of promoting prostitution in Eastside sex trafficking ring

Authorities say suspect ran “successful enterprise” for greater half of a decade.

Kirkland allocates CARES Act funding

The council approved the city manager’s plans for the $2.6 million

Celebrate Kirkland festivities on previous July 4. Reporter file photo
Kirkland hosting virtual ‘Celebrate Kirkland’

The Independence Day virtual event includes footage from previous parades and firework displays

Public and private universities, colleges, technical schools, apprenticeship programs and similar schools and programs may resume general instruction, including in-person classes and lectures, starting Aug. 1. Pictured: The University of Washington-Bothell campus. File photo
Universities and colleges may reopen in fall, governor says

His order requires masks and physical distancing, among other measures, to help prevent infections.

Locals enjoy the water at Juanita Beach Park, where the Friday farmer’s market is located. Katie Metzger/staff photo
Juanita Beach to close at least a week from bacteria

This closure is in addition to the previous week’s closure that was caused by a toxic algal bloom in the water.

Most Read