Tri-Cities COVID-19 case rates falling as more youth get sick

Benton County, Tri-Cities
Image credit: Neil Fischer, KAPP-KVEW

KENNEWICK, Wash. — Coronavirus rates are falling across Benton and Franklin counties, though high case rates amongst the youth of the Tri-Cities.

Roughly 1,000 people are lining up at the CBC West public testing site in Pasco each day to get tested—whether it be due to symptoms, exposure, or travel. That’s because COVID-19 case rates reached a new high for these Southeast Washington counties in the month of September.

During her weekly update on COVID-19 response, Dr. Amy Person of the Benton-Franklin Health District (BFHD) highlighted the impact that vaccinations can have on hospitalization rates for the Tri-Cities region.

PREVIOUS: Tri-Cities’ 14-day case rate is declining, but remains higher than the previous peak

“As our case rates have continued to slow over the last few weeks, we are now seeing that reflected in the slowing and lowering in hospitalizations, which is also excellent news,” Dr. Person said. “The high hospitalizations that we had been seeing—again, primarily due to individuals who were not vaccinated—had been a significant strain on our medical system.”

Only 45.5% of Benton County’s eligible population is fully vaccinated, and Franklin County’s is even lower at 39.4%. State health authorities informed Dr. Person that people in the 35-to-65 age range are 20 times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 than vaccinated people. That rate bumps to an alarming 26 times more likely for unvaccinated people in the age 12-to-34 range to land in the hospital.

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“Our 15 to 19-year-olds represent the highest case rates in both our continues combined,” Dr. Person said.

She went on to commend schools for their handling of coronavirus outbreaks. While there have been dozens of students pulled from classrooms due to coronavirus symptoms, exposure, or positivity, schools have not been forced to close. This is because they are following guidance from public health authorities and putting the safety of the children first.

If you or a loved one would like to get vaccinated, click here to find a clinic near you.

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