Clark County’s Phase 3 application ‘on pause’ as COVID-19 cases rise

Public health officials have urged county residents to stay home over July Fourth holiday weekend, saying 'this is a dangerous time for gatherings'

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Clark County Public Health is urging people to stay home this Fourth of July weekend as the county experiences an increase in COVID-19 cases.

Public Health reported 40 new cases – the highest number of cases reported in a single day in Clark County since the pandemic began – on Wednesday, July 1.

“Clark County’s case numbers are going up. This is a dangerous time for gatherings,” Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County health officer and Public Health director, stated in a news release asking residents to avoid gatherings on the Fourth of July holiday. “We cannot disregard physical distancing simply because it’s a holiday weekend.”

The county is now averaging 20 new COVID-19 cases per day, with 162 people testing positive in the county from June 23-30.

Public Health officials say at least 15 percent of the county’s new cases stemmed from “private social gatherings” of up to 10 people. 

COVID-19 is primarily spread through close contact with respiratory droplets expelled when someone who is infected coughs, sneezes or talks. Public health officials say people who do not show symptoms can still spread the coronavirus to others.

“Public Health is urging Clark County residents to celebrate this Independence Day at home, the news release stated. “Any gatherings should be limited to no more than five people from outside of the household – the largest gathering size allowed under Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan.”

Public Health officials urged Clark County residents to take steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community by maintaining physical distance of at least six feet between non-household members, wearing face coverings in public, frequently washing hands, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water aren’t available, covering coughs and sneezes, avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands, frequently disinfecting high-touch surfaces and staying home when you feel ill.

Clark County applied for Phase 3 status on June 26, but said today that application has been put on hold after Governor Jay Inslee announced a two-week pause on the state’s Safe Start reopening process. 

“Public Health supports the governor’s decision to pause the reopening process,” Melnick stated in a news release issued Thursday, July 2. “We’re seeing a dramatic increase in the number of new cases in Clark County. I’m worried that our rising case numbers will lead to increase in hospitalizations and, potentially, deaths.”

For more information about COVID-19 and the Public Health response, visit the Public Health website.