Washington's New Roadmap to Recovery
Posted on 01/15/2021
Washington's roadmap to recovery by region

What you need to know about Washington's new Roadmap to Recovery.

Washington State has a new plan to guide the reopening of activities in our regions in the COVID-19 response.

Healthy Washington—Roadmap to Recovery is a regional approach that replaces the county-specific Safe Start plan. Regions will work together to ensure our residents are healthy and safe as we look towards easing restrictions on activities by phases dependent upon their transmission risk.


What Healthy Washington—Roadmap to Recovery means for our side of the state.

The new plan places Benton and Franklin counties in a region with Walla Walla, Klickitat, Yakima, and Kittitas for data collection and disease tracking. The state will track four metrics in each region:

  • Two-week rate of COVID-19 cases per 100K population.
  • Two-week rate of new COVID-19 hospital admission rates per 100K population.
  • ICU occupancy (total: COVID and non-COVID).
  • COVID-19 test positivity rate.

Measuring the region as a whole makes sense. Disease rates and hospitalizations usually move in the same direction at roughly the same rate across our region. As you can see from the metrics we update daily, hospital resources are one of our biggest concerns.  Area residents work and seek treatment outside their county of residence. Additionally, we need to ensure our closest health care resources are in good shape in case hospitals within the region needs to transfer patients.

Benton-Franklin Health District’s approach to the pandemic will remain our own. Much of our work already aligns with the other counties in our region; the new plan doesn't restrict the way BFHD works to protect and improve the health of our bi-county community.

Washington State Department of Health is responsible to report regional data. The state will update metrics for each region on its Risk Assessment Dashboard every Friday. If the metrics point to a change, the region will move into a new phase—forward or backward—the following Monday.


Two phases of reopening.

The Roadmap to Recovery reduces the number of reopening phases from four to two. When it began Monday, Jan. 11, all of the eight regions began in Phase 1.

In order to move to Phase 2, regions will need to show:

  • At least a 10% decrease in our 2-week rate of cases per 100,000 people.
  • At least a 10% decrease in our 2-week rate of new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 people.
  • A total ICU occupancy of less than 90%.
  • A test positivity rate of less than 10%.


When we move to Phase 2, you’ll see relaxed restrictions in community activities and businesses. Long gone are the days of having to submit lengthy applications for review and approval.


It will also allow the state to move more quickly to protect our residents if trends get worse. Once we’re in Phase 2, the state could move us back to Phase 1 if we don’t continue to see:

  • A decreasing or flat trend in the case rate.
  • A decreasing or flat trend in COVID-19 hospital admissions.
  • Our total ICU occupancy below 90%.
  • Test positivity below 10%.

The community is longing for a sense of normalcy, but we must ensure that COVID-19 transmission remains as low as possible until we can get a vaccine to everyone who wants it. The key is to protect ourselves so we can protect others who are most vulnerable to serious illness or even death.

If we work together to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Benton and Franklin counties, we do our part to influence how quickly things move along. We know everyone is eager to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but it is only one tool in our toolbox and does not eliminate the need for other mitigation measures:

  • Wear your mask.
  • Wash or sanitize your hands often.
  • Practice physical distancing.
  • If you’re sick, stay home.
  • Avoid indoor gatherings
  • Get a flu shot.
  • Get the COVID-19 vaccine when it’s your turn.
  • Track when you’re eligible to receive a vaccine and get one as soon as you can.

These steps are your personal journey on our road to recovery. Please do your part to stay the course.

What you can expect next.

We’ll continue to collect and publish Benton and Franklin County data on our website. The data informs our work and provides needed context for our residents.

We’ll also continue our COVID-19 response work, including outbreak mitigation, care coordination, schools guidance, business safety and support of vaccinations in our area.

Vaccines are still our best path back to normal life. High risk healthcare workers, emergency medical services personnel and residents in long-term care have already began getting vaccinated, and the state has announced the next tiers of people who will be eligible. Washington Department of Health has a new tool called Phase Finder that will help determine your vaccine eligibility and locations providing vaccination. And remember, the vaccine does not guarantee you will not contract and spread COVID-19, especially in the first few weeks after your first dose. And, it can only reach the 95% efficacy rate with the booster shot and by allowing the body time to build antibodies.

We’re still in the midst of the third and largest wave of the pandemic. Disease rates seem to be flattening, but at a very high level. Each of us must continue to do the daily work to protect our families and community: