Yakima County sees increased COVID-19 hospitalizations

Most hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Yakima County are unvaccinated
Yakima Health District
Photo Credit: Emily Goodell, KAPP-KVEW

YAKIMA, Wash. — Over the past week, Yakima County has seen the highest increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the last two months — most were unvaccinated.

According to the Yakima Health District, the county had 15 new hospitalizations from July 8 to 14 — a record compared to weekly hospitalization numbers from May and June. As of Friday, 24 people were hospitalized.

Health district officials said in the past, they’ve noticed an increase in cases after a large event, followed by an increase in hospitalizations.

“This increase aligns with the June 30, 2021 opening of the state and loosening of masking guidance,” officials said in a news release.

COVID-19 cases have increased, but not at the same rate as hospitalizations, possible due to less people seeking testing for the virus, the release said.

Health district officials have found over the last three months that 96% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients were unvaccinated and are urging community members who aren’t vaccinated to get the vaccine.

“We encourage everyone who can get vaccinated to do so to protect others who can’t get vaccinated yet, such as children under 12 years of age and people who are immunocompromised,” said Dr. Larry Jecha, Interim Health Officer at the Yakima Health District. “Let us all continue to do our part to protect those around us. We don’t want to overwhelm the hospital or healthcare system in the county again.”

A list of opportunities for vaccination in Yakima County can be found here.

Health district officials said anyone who chooses not to get vaccinated, they still need to wear a face mask and keep their distance from others.  Despite the fact that only 49.5% of county residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated, less than half of the community is wearing face masks when out and about.

“Masks are an effective measure against the spread of COVID-19; if you are not fully vaccinated, you should be wearing a mask to avoid further increases in cases and hospitalizations due to COVID-19,” said-Melissa Sixberry, registered nurse and Director of Disease Control at the Yakima Health District.

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