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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday that he is loosening the criteria for regions to move from Phase 1 to Phase 2 of Washington's phased COVID-19 reopening plan.

Regions will now be allowed to move to Phase 2 if they meet three out of the four metrics. Previously they needed to meet all four metrics. The new guidelines will allow two regions - West and Puget Sound - to move to Phase 2 on Monday, Feb. 1.

What does this mean for high school sports? It means moderate and high risk high school sports - including football - can return to competition in the West and Puget Sound regions starting on Monday.

Here are the counties in the West region: Grays Harbor, Lewis, Pacific and Thurston. And here are the counties in the Puget Sound region: King, Pierce and Snohomish.

The WIAA's updated three-season high school sports calendar calls for fall sports practice to start Feb. 1. In the West and Puget Sound regions - home to thousands of high school athletes - that will now happen.

The state-imposed metrics were put in place to limit the spread of the virus and prevent health care systems from being overwhelmed. To move forward, regions must now meet three out of these four metrics:

  • 10 percent decrease in positive COVID-19 cases
  • 10 percent decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations
  • Lower than 10 percent positive test rate
  • Intensive care unit occupancy rate under 90 percent

The Washington State Department of Health will now calculate regions' metrics every two weeks, instead of weekly. So the next opportunity for regions to move to Phase 2 will come on Feb. 15.

Here are the regions that remain in Phase 1:

  • East
  • South Central
  • North Central
  • Northwest
  • Southwest
  • North