According to officials with the Washington State Health Department, Benton and Franklin Counties application to move to Phase Two re opening has been "paused," reportedly pending further discussion.

According to the WSDOH (Washington State Department of Health) one of the main criteria for moving ahead is not having more than 25 new cases per every 100,000 in population over a two week period.

The state says Benton County has averaged 155 cases during this time, Franklin County had 321.

Some officials say it's due to increased testing, and it is also noted on the BFHD website, they do not appear to be posting breakdowns of where the cases are coming from anymore, for example, "X number were from the Tyson Plant,"  or "X number are directly from assisted care-nursing homes and associated workers.

Those who are pushing for the Phase Two and re open say significant numbers from 'isolated' or specific area outbreaks should be considered in the risk dashboard.

The BFHD site also reports that while they locally require a COVID-19 death to be directly due to the virus, the DOH counts a positive test as COVID even the virus was NOT the specific cause of death. From their website.

"BFHD defined a COVID-19 death as someone who died with COVID-19 as their primary cause of death, meaning they died because of COVID-19. DOH includes people who tested positive for COVID-19 and died, but may not have died of COVID-19. That’s why the dashboard may show a higher number of deaths than we previously reported. DOH is currently updating their definition, and in the coming days, the total number of deaths reported on the dashboard may decrease. "

According to officials, the application is "paused" pending "further discussion."  B-F Counties are part of only six in the state who remain in Phase One.

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