The four stages of lockdown reopening explained
By Marina-Rae Gill, reporter
Stage one, also known as the Healthcare System Readiness stage, is the first phase of Washington’s journey to the resumption of everyday life. Whether or not a county may enter stage one is measured by the healthcare system’s capacity of available beds, staff, and medical supplies. This includes supplies in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes and rehabilitation. Counties are also judged by the number of days worth of protective equipment that are available in said care facilities. Because COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, hospitals must also be equipped with an appropriate number of ventilators.
Many Washington state counties have already entered or are nearing entry into stage two, or the Testing Capacity and Availability phase. Entry into this stage is mostly measured by the immediate availability of tests for those who have been exposed to the virus or are showing symptoms. This can be determined by the overall density and geographic positions of testing locations, as well as the number of labs providing tests and the number of tests taken per day. Counties with around 10 cases per every 100,000 residents are permitted to apply to advance into stage two.
Stage three, otherwise known as the Case and Contact Investigations phase, will be put into place once there are few enough victims of coronavirus that they and their contacts may be quickly quarantined. Knowing who has been in contact with a coronavirus carrier can be difficult to track, which is why counties must have a certain number of trained investigators in order to enter the third stage. There must be enough areas to isolate all of the cases until they are healthy again. If there aren’t facilities for cases to be isolated and still properly cared for, then counties may not move into stage three.
Stage four focuses on the protection of those in the at-risk category. For this reason, it is known as the Ability to Protect High-Risk Populations phase. The at-risk population includes elderly people and those who have compromised immune systems, which is why entry into stage four is judged by how many COVID-19 outbreaks there are in long term care facilities. It is also important to assess a country’s ability to respond immediately to said outbreaks in order to protect as many people as possible.