Benton & Franklin County COVID-19 rates far exceed the rest of Washington state

Besides Walla Walla Co., Benton and Franklin Counties have the highest 14-day case rates in the state by a wide margin.
Benton
Elaine Thompson

FILE - In this June 3, 2021, file photo, registered nurse fills syringes with Pfizer vaccines at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, in Bellingham, Wash. The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 has topped 600,000, even as the vaccination drive has drastically slashed daily cases and deaths and allowed the country to emerge from the gloom.

KENNEWICK, Wash. — Just over two weeks removed from the Fourth of July milestone, which marked the end of the pandemic in the minds of many, Benton and Franklin Counties are suffering another rapid increase in coronavirus cases, positivity, and hospitalizations.

According to information provided by the Benton-Franklin Health District (BFHD), the bi-county region that encompasses the Tri-Cities added 91 new cases on Tuesday, July 20 alone. That includes 63 cases in Benton County and 28 cases in Franklin County, increasing the bi-county case count to 30,835 since the start of the pandemic.

The 14-day case count average for Benton and Franklin Counties is currently as high as it was in mid-February. Additionally, the 100 cases added on Friday, July 16 are the most recorded in the region since February 1.

As cases rise, so do the number of people being hospitalized for COVID-19 complications. Just yesterday, the BFHD announced that 46 hospitalized patients in the region were being treated for the coronavirus.

RELATED: Tri-Cities COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations surge over the weekend

Eight more people were hospitalized since yesterday’s update, increasing the percentage of hospital occupants facing COVID-19 complications to 13.5%. For reference, the target range that public health officials set for the region was sub-10% COVID-19 hospitalizations, which it maintained for many months in the Spring.

The three highest COVID-19 case rates by county over the last four days are Walla Walla County (343.6), Franklin County (321.4), and Benton County (269.8). The next highest 14-day case rate belongs to Columbia County, which is more than 100 cases fewer than Benton County at this time.

Per the Washington Department of Health (DOH), 79,842 community members from Benton County and 30,263 community members from Franklin County are fully vaccinated by this point. If you would like to get vaccinated in Washington state, you can find a government-approved vaccination clinic near you by visiting the state’s Vaccine Locator tool here.

RECENT NEWS HEADLINES FROM THE KAPP-KVEW NEWS STAFF:

RELATED: Tri-Cities now among the highest COVID case rates in WA state, West Coast