Yakima County may have to go back to Phase 2

State Department of Health will decide Monday

YAKIMA, Wash. — The State Department of Health will choose Monday which counties stay in Phase 3 and which will go back a step based on their COVID-19 metrics.

“The way that this works is that on Monday, we will evaluate the most recently available full numbers,” Gov. Jay Inslee said at a press conference. “The following Friday, that change — if any — would go into place.”

As of Friday afternoon, Yakima Health District officials said it’s unlikely Yakima County will be allowed to stay in Phase 3.

“We have been seeing concerning rates of COVID-19, locally and nationally,” said Stephanie Badillo-Sanchez, Communications Specialist with the Yakima Health District.  “I believe it’s a combination of people not following public health recommendations, either gathering with lots of people outside your household, not wearing a mask.”

In order to stay in Phase 3, a larger county must have less than 200 new cases per 100,000 people over a period of two weeks. As of the latest numbers available — from Thursday, April 8 — Yakima County was at 275, much higher than the limit set by state health officials.

Counties  must also have less than five new hospitalizations per 100,000 people over the past week, but Yakima County’s at 8.6 new hospitalizations in a week’s time.  A county can fail one metric and stay in Phase 3, but failing two means it’s back to Phase 2.

Badillo-Sanchez said while those numbers could change over the weekend, it’s unlikely they’ll decrease enough to put the county within the set limits.

Under the current phase, most businesses are allowed to have up to 50 percent capacity, but under Phase 2, that number decreases by half to just 25 percent capacity.

Inslee said people can help by following COVID-19 guidelines, getting vaccinated and advocating for others to get the vaccine.

“If you ever loved your father or mother or grandmother or grandfather, uncle, aunt, neighbor, here’s a really good time to show that love in talking to them about the about the safety of this vaccine,” Inslee said.

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