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

The Delta variant now accounts for 50% of the COVID cases in both Benton and Franklin counties

TRI-CITIES, Wash. — Health officials with the Benton Franklin Health District (BFHD) held a press conference Thursday morning alerting the community that COVID case numbers are continuing to rise despite Washington’s population hitting 70% fully vaccinated.

In the Tri-Cities, only 38% of Benton County’s total population is fully vaccinated. Franklin County’s numbers are even lower with only 35% fully vaccinated.

Dr. Amy Person, a health officer for the BFHD, said the low percentages mixed with the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant are what’s causing the increase of COVID rates.

“The Delta variant represents about 50% of the samples that have been sequenced from Benton and Franklin counties,” Dr. Person said. “It is now the predominant circulating strain in our area and has risen to that point over just a couple of weeks period.”

Benton County is currently averaging 190 cases per 100,000 people over a two-week period while Franklin County averages about 176 cases per 100,000.

This puts the Tri-Cities among the highest in Washington state and on the west coast in new cases, mostly in young adults.

“We are seeing disease activity rise in all age groups although the 20 to 39-year-olds continue to be the largest driver of this increase,” Dr. Person said.

She added that case rates in people under 18 and hospitalizations for COVID are also increasing.

“A single person who’s infected is no longer just infecting one or two of the many people they may be around,” Dr. Person said. “That number is increasing to four or 10 so we are seeing more transmission in households.”

Dr. Person said that if you want to get vaccinated, it’s not too late.

“We are encouraging people to get vaccinated. Our goal is really to ensure that there’s accurate information about vaccines available so that when people are ready to make that choice they know what their options are,” Dr. Person said.

July 18th is the last day of operation for vaccinations at the CBC West site in Pasco but you can still find other places to get the shots.

For more COVID information from the BFHD, click here.

For a list of testing sites, click here.

To find an appointment for the vaccine, click here.

To check out all things COVID-19 and vaccine from KAPP/KVEW, click here.

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