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Washington state pauses counties moving to Phase 4 of reopening

Gov. Inslee said the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the state makes it impossible to move to Phase 4, which would have meant basically no restrictions.

Washington counties looking to move to Phase 4 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start plan will have to wait a little longer.

Gov. Inslee and Secretary John Wiesman announced Saturday the Department of Health is putting a pause on counties moving to Phase 4 due to rising coronavirus cases across the state and increased concern about the spread of the virus, according to a news release.

Eight counties were eligible to move from Phase 3 to Phase 4 before the pause.

"Phase 4 would mean a return to normal activity and we can’t do that now due to the continued rise in cases across the state," Inslee said. "We all want to get back to doing all the things we love in Washington during the summer, and fully open our economy, but we aren’t there yet. This is an evolving situation and we will continue to make decisions based on the data."

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Washington state surpassed 30,000 coronavirus cases last week. As of Monday morning, there were 1,310 deaths among 31,752 total COVID-19 cases in Washington, according to the state Department of Health.

Gov. Inslee issued an order, which took effect Friday, requiring face masks to be worn in public to help curb the spread of COVID-19. Sec. Wiesman said wearing face masks and socially distancing will continue to help reduce the spread.

"The best thing Washingtonians can do to slow the spread of the virus and save lives is to wear facial coverings, continue to maintain physical distancing and good hygiene practices," said Wiesman. "Now that testing supplies are available, it is critical to get a test if you have any symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19."

RELATED: Reopening Washington: Look up the phase of your county