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Washington state pauses reopening over rise in coronavirus case

Washington state Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeThousands of troops dig in for inauguration OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Nine, including former Michigan governor, charged over Flint water crisis | Regulator finalizes rule forcing banks to serve oil, gun companies | Trump admin adds hurdle to increase efficiency standards for furnaces, water heaters Legislatures boost security after insurrection, FBI warnings MORE (D) announced Saturday he is pausing his state’s reopening amid a rise in coronavirus cases. 

Washington’s Department of Health said that eight counties that were eligible to move to Phase 4 of the reopening process will not move on with their plan as the state tries to grapple with the surge in cases.

"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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"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," added state Health Secretary John 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."

The move comes as the state grapples with an exploding outbreak after initially flattening the curve. There have now been nearly 31,000 cases in the state, and over 1,300 people have died. 

Phase 4 of the reopening plan would have resumed all public interactions with physical distancing and recreational activities and would have reopened nightclubs, concert venues and sporting events.