State cites Yakima County’s COVID improvements; 47 new cases Friday | Update

Yakima County has gone from a COVID-19 problem area to a good example for the rest of the state, according to the latest statewide situation report released Friday by the state Department of Health.

“The sustained decline in Yakima suggests that there are lessons to be learned here for the rest of the state,” the report said.

There were 47 new cases of COVID-19 in Yakima County on Friday, marking 20 straight days of fewer than 100 new cases. That’s a stark improvement from June, when the county’s average daily new-case count was about 150. Health officials have credited an increase in face-mask use and other precautions for the decline.

Improvements haven’t been limited to case counts, either. The county’s rate of positive tests, about 30% at its peak, was down to around 17% last week, according to the Yakima Health District. And hospitalizations continue to trend down, with fewer than 20 people hospitalized with COVID-19 now countywide, compared to more than 60 in June.

Most counties in the state have seen new case counts plateau, according to the state report released Friday. But the report cautioned against letting vigilance slip. The pandemic is still going strong, and staying home, wearing masks and limiting interactions are the best ways to stop it.

“Plateauing is not enough to keep the epidemic under control; we must transition to a state of sustained decline in new cases as has taken place in Yakima,” the report said.

With the 47 new cases Friday, the county total now stands at 11,159. Most of those, 9,094, are considered to have recovered. The death toll stayed put Friday at 211, as did hospitalizations, 17, and intubations, five.

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