Yakima County COVID-19 cases rising

Vaccination center closesd, mobile clinics continue and new Health Officer elected

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. — As COVID-19 cases rise in Yakima County, local health officials are trying to combat the spread of the virus by encouraging community members to get vaccinated.

The weekend following July 23, the county reported a total of 86 new COVID-19 cases; that number more than doubled this past weekend to 183 new cases.

“As of August 2nd, which was yesterday, Yakima county had a case rate of 275 per 100,000 and a hospitalization rate of 5.0 per 100,000,” said Stephanie Badillo-Sanchez, Communications Specialist with the Yakima Health District.

The COVID-19 testing site at State Fair Park was previously scheduled to close July 31, but due to the recent increase in cases and with the help of additional funding from the University of Washington, the health district determined it was in the county’s best interest to keep it open longer.

“It’s important for people to go out to get tested if your experience COVID-19 sometimes, because the sooner we’re able to detect COVID-19 are faster, we’re able to stop the spread of it to continue in our community,” Badillo-Sanchez said.

However, the health district did close its community vaccination center at State Fair Park on July 31, after it had administered more than 49,000 vaccine doses. Badillo-Sanchez said visitors to the center had plateaued and they’ve had more success reaching people recently through mobile vaccine clinics.

“It could be convenient for them: maybe they’re just grocery shopping, they weren’t going to go out of their way to get vaccinated, but they found a location there, right where they were, so they decided to do it,” Badillo-Sanchez said.

The Yakima Health District holds mobile clinics across the county in different locations each week and updates yakimavaccines.org regularly with new clinics scheduled. This week, those clinics include:

  • Wednesday, Aug. 4
    • 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Fiesta Foods, 1008 E. Nob Hill Blvd. in Yakima
    • 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Fiesta Foods (Sunnyside), 2010 Yakima Valley Hwy #7 in Sunnyside
  • Thursday, Aug. 5
    • 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Westside Church, 6901 Summitview Ave. in Yakima
    • 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Toppenish Community Chest Food Bank, 4 N. B St. in Toppenish

The county’s Board of Health also voted in a new Health Officer, Dr. Neil Barg, who has worked as an infectious disease specialist in Yakima for more than 20 years. He began working in the position Aug. 1.

“Dr. Barg’s role as Health Officer will be to provide subject matter expertise, help craft the policy and health orders and also guide the Board of Health on its health strategies and concerns,” Badillo-Sanchez said.

The health district is asking everyone to comply with new guildelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and wear a face mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

“The new guidance was based on data showing that in very rare instances vaccinated people can catch and spread the virus,” Badillo-Sanchez said.

Badillo-Sanchez said it was important to remind people that the vaccines are still effective against the virus and will prevent people who end up with COVID-19 from being seriously ill, becoming hospitalized or dying as a result of complications deom the virus.

“We understand that it’s frustrating to go back to wearing masks, but we’re just trying to take those extra precautions that we can take as a community to protect ourselves and those around us,” Badillo-Sanchez said.

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