Tri-Cities COVID-19 metrics suggest a return to Phase 2 next week

Tri-Cities

KENNEWICK, Wash. — Today’s coronavirus metrics from the Benton-Franklin Health District (BFHD) likely provides the bi-county region’s final update before public health leaders re-evaluate ‘Healthy Washington’ standing. Given the current state of the coronavirus pandemic in Benton and Franklin Counties, the Tri-Cities may be moved back to Phase 2 of re-opening next week.

Friday’s update from the BFHD showed an increase of 53 new coronavirus cases in the bi-county region, increasing the total case count to 27,961 since the pandemic began. As of April 30, the bi-county region is failing to meet the minimum case rate requirement to remain in Phase 3 of the ‘Healthy Washington’ re-opening guidelines. Currently, the Benton County case rate stands at 213 while the Franklin County case rate is sky-high at 311.

Case rates are determined using an algorithm that accounts for a county’s population in contrast with recent coronavirus infections in the region.

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Hospitalization rates are on the rise again as well. Currently, 26 of the 391 hospitalized individuals in the region are dealing with coronavirus complications, which accounts for 6.7 percent of the hospitalized population.

To make matters direr, five more Tri-Cities community members passed away during the past week. Benton County lost three people — One woman in her 60s and two men in their 80s; while Franklin County lost two men in their 60s this past week.

Community COVID-19 positivity rates have been steadily increasing for weeks despite vaccination efforts throughout the state. At the CBC West public testing site, 11.13% of COVID-19 tests returned a positive result from April 12 to April 25. That’s a sharp and noticeable increase from previous weeks when the positivity rate for the Tri-Cities reduced below 8.5 percent at the end of March.

If the Tri-Cities are moved back to Phase 2 of ‘Healthy Washington‘ re-opening guidelines, small business owners will likely be impacted the most. If Benton and Franklin Counties move back, indoor capacity will be reduced by half to a maximum of 25% for retail stores, worship services, personal services and events/gatherings.

The fate of the Tri-Cities is in the hands of Governor Jay Inslee and his team with the state Department of Health.

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