Coronavirus trends have shown some improvement in Yakima County, but infection rates and total mortality remain high.
Health officials are encouraging people to be vaccinated, wear masks, and follow other official recommendations as seasonal respiratory viruses such as influenza have begun to emerge.
The number of cases and hospitalizations for COVID-19 in Yakima County has declined from recent highs, but the number of deaths remains high. According to the Yakima Health District, the 14-day case rate dropped to 513 per 100,000 as of Friday. The case rate reached a high of over 1,000 last month.
The percentage of positive tests in the community has decreased. This is also a good sign. According to the Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital, the positive test rate at the Yakima laboratory was 14.7% from September 30th to October 7th. The county’s positive test rate was over 20% in early September.
Hospitalization is also on the decline. According to health district data, COVID-19 hospitalizations declined in early October, when 30-35 people were hospitalized in the county. It has increased slightly recently, with 39 people hospitalized with COVID-19 as of October 14.
These trends are similar throughout the state. Lacy Felenbach of the Washington State Department of Health said the number of COVID-19 cases is declining across the state and across all age groups on Wednesday, October 13. She is the state’s COVID-19 compliant deputy secretary.
She said hospitalizations were declining across the state.
“We are encouraged to go in the right direction, but there is a long way to go to overcome this delta wave and prepare for the winter respiratory virus season,” she said.
The number of deaths from COVID-19 has increased in Yakima County since July. According to a new breakdown of data provided by the health district, the county recorded the highest number of monthly deaths since the start of the September pandemic.
The Yakima County Trend Report, updated every Monday, reported 45 COVID-19 deaths in September. This is about twice the number of deaths reported during the previous peak of cases, hospitalizations and deaths in January 2021.
“We reported the highest number of deaths from COVID-19 in September of this year,” said Stephanie Badillo-Sanchez, a health district spokesman.
As of Friday, October 15, 24 COVIDs died in October in Yakima County, on track to match or exceed September records. The county has reported a total of 548 deaths from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
According to the Weekly Trend Report, breakthrough cases account for about 6.5% of COVID-19 cases in Yakima County. Out of a total of 26,722 cases from January 1st to October 11th this year, about 1,740 breakthrough cases have been reported.
The report states that the maximum number of breakthrough cases occurs between the ages of 40 and 49.
Badillo-Sanchez said breakthrough cases are expected as more people are vaccinated and the delta virus continues to spread.
“It’s not that the vaccine isn’t working,” she said. “We are dealing with new viruses as well as delta viruses.”
People who have been vaccinated with COVID-19 have a much lower risk of infection, hospitalization, and death, but some vaccinated people are infected with the virus. This includes delta variants, which are more contagious than previous variants.
Vaccine, booster shot
About 61% of the Yakima County population over the age of 12 is fully vaccinated. Approximately 69% of the population over the age of 12 receives at least one dose.
These rates are slightly below state levels.
Throughout the state, 69% of the same population is fully vaccinated and 75% of the population is vaccinated at least once.
Washington requires vaccines from health care workers and long-term care center workers, state employees, and education staff. Qualified workers must be fully vaccinated by Monday. Governor Jay Inslee said at a press conference Thursday that the deadline would not be postponed.
At the same press conference, Insley announced vaccine verification requirements for a major event starting November 15.
According to the Health District website, Booster Shot is available to people over the age of 65, and people over the age of 18 with underlying illness, who work in or live in a high-risk environment. Boosters are only available to those who completed the Pfizer series at least 6 months ago.
For more information on Vaccine Clinic and Booster Shot, please visit: yakimavaccines.org..
The Health District has set up an additional COVID-19 testing site at State Fair Park to meet the growing demand for testing in Yakima.
According to a news release, the free drive-through site at State Fair Park, 1301 S. Fair Avenue will open Monday at 9 am. This site offers weekend and evening tests. The test is available from 9am to 3pm on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The site is open Tuesday from noon to 6 pm. The entrance is through Gate 15 on Pacific Avenue.
Free community testing sites will continue at Yakima Valley College and Sunnyside Community Center. Reservations are not required, but it is advisable to pre-register to reduce waiting times, the news release said.
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