Grays Harbor not ready to apply for variance, according to officials

The Grays Harbor COVID-19 Policy Group is closely monitoring County’s readiness to re-open, although there are steps that need to be taken.

In a release from Grays Harbor County Public Health & Grays Harbor County Emergency Management they say that following the announcement by the Governor allowing Grays Harbor to apply for a variance that allows some counties to move into phases of loosening restrictions, local officials are considering options.

At this time, they say that while Grays Harbor County is eligible to apply for a variance, a plan must be submitted that demonstrates the readiness and capacity of our local health care and public safety systems in four key areas. 

  1.     Health care system readiness to provide care for, including critical care, for a large number of people in a short period of time.  This includes the availability of adequate beds, ventilators, and PPE.
  2.     Enough supplies, PPE, and personnel to immediately test everyone with COVID-19 symptoms and those with high-risk exposures.
  3.     Enough trained staff and volunteers to rapidly isolate people with COVID-19, support their needs while they are in isolation and trace and support quarantine in their close contacts.
  4.     Enough personnel, PPE, and testing equipment to rapidly respond to outbreaks in congregate living situations such as long term care facilities and homeless shelters.

The Grays Harbor COVID-19 Policy Group said in the release that they will assess the County’s readiness to apply for a variance to the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order.  Currently, there are several areas of concern that will need to be addressed:

  •         Local health care facilities are currently unable to get enough PPE through regular or emergency supply chains to resume regular health care activities such as elective surgeries or expanded COVID-19 testing.
  •         Grays Harbor County Emergency Management is currently unable to acquire adequate testing supplies in a predictable way.  The Grays Harbor County Health Officer is currently restricting testing to high priority groups to conserve test supplies until the supply chain opens up.
  •         Grays Harbor County Public Health lacks an adequate number of trained staff to rapidly isolate and investigate large numbers of new COVID-19 cases.
  •         The Grays Harbor COVID-19 Policy Group is aware that there are many local people who are fearful that people from more populous areas where COVID-19 is more prevalent will introduce infection into local communities, and the Policy Group is concerned about the effect that those fears and tensions may have on public safety.

 “This continues to be an uncertain and stressful time for all of us. People’s lives have been disrupted. Many people are experiencing financial hardship and many are worried about their health and the health of the people they love,” said Karolyn Holden, Director of Grays Harbor County Public Health and member of the Grays Harbor COVID-19 Policy Group. “The Grays Harbor COVID-19 Policy Group is eager to support our local communities in a safe return to public life. Although the case counts in Grays Harbor County remain fairly low and we have not had any cases in long-term care facilities, we know that we are at a critical point in our response and that we must make careful decisions about re-opening our community. ”

 The Grays Harbor COVID-19 Policy Group will continue to closely monitor local capacity and readiness to respond to the increased transmission of COVID-19 that may occur if social distancing measures are relaxed. 

No additional cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Grays Harbor County since April 12. Grays Harbor Public Health Incident Management Team (IMT) remains prepared to respond if any additional cases are identified.

Grays Harbor Public Health Incident Management Team and Grays Harbor Emergency Operations Center provide the most accurate, timely information possible.

For any questions about COVID-19 and our response call (360) 964-1850, email [email protected], or visit our website at  Like us on Facebook at