Gildon introduces legislation to help counties succeed in recovery plan

Sen. Chris Gildon has sponsored a bill to ensure equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine is considered before a county is moved back to a more restrictive phase under the “Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery” plan.

Senate Bill 5484 would require the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) to conduct a weekly assessment of the status of each county in meeting the standards of the recovery plan. If DOH determines that a county is at risk of moving back a phase, they must then determine if that county has received, at minimum, the statewide average allocation of vaccinations. Should an at-risk county’s distribution be less than the statewide average, DOH must then surge additional doses to that county. The bill would also prohibit a county from reverting to a more restrictive phase if their allocation is not at least equal to the statewide average.

Gildon, R-Puyallup, introduced this legislation after Gov. Inslee announced last Monday that Pierce, Cowlitz and Whitman counties would move back to Phase 2. He also notes that Pierce County has received approximately 9,400 fewer vaccinations per 100,000 residents than the statewide average and 16,000 fewer per 100,000 residents than King County.

“While Pierce County has done incredible work with the resources it has been given, the inequitable allocation of vaccinations certainly moves the needle.” said Gildon. “Having the Health Department as a proactive partner looking out for counties that are on the edge is vital in keeping cases down and our economy open. We must do everything we can to keep people safe and keep our businesses open.”

Additionally, Republican lawmakers in Pierce, Whitman and Cowlitz Counties wrote this letter to Gov. Inslee expressing their concerns regarding his decision to move these counties back to Phase 2.