Whitman County’s health director is anticipating the county will remain in Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s COVID-19 phased reopening plan as it awaits an official report from the state today.

Chris Skidmore told the county commissioners on Monday that he predicts there will be no change in phases “based on the metrics that we’re seeing.”

The state makes its determination based on COVID-19 case and hospitalization rates.

Current data from the county shows 140 new cases between April 18 and Saturday. This equals a case rate of between 250-300 cases per a population of 100,000, which is too high to qualify for Phase 3.

Skidmore said cases have only dropped slightly in the past week, but he is hoping they will decline more as Washington State University students leave Pullman at the end of the spring semester. According to data from WSU, there are 30 active COVID-19 cases among students as of Sunday.

However, he said, there might be a slight increase initially if students decide to get tested before leaving.

He commended WSU’s decision to require that students be vaccinated before coming to campus in the fall.

“With WSU requiring the vaccination for fall attendance next year, that could help out quite a bit and avoid seeing a spike like we did last year when they came back,” Skidmore said.

He said that decision should help limit COVID-19 transmissions and help move the county forward in phases.

Under Phase 2, capacity for indoor dining at restaurants, retail stores and gyms is limited to 25 percent as opposed to Phase 3, which permits 50 percent.

There have been 4,242 cases, 48 deaths and 106 hospitalizations in Whitman County since the beginning of the pandemic.

Kuipers can be reached at akuipers@dnews.com.