BENTON AND FRANKLIN COUNTIES, WA - COVID-19 cases remain at an all time high in the Tri-Cities and health leaders say the numbers are alarming. They also say hospitalization rates in Benton and Franklin counties have almost doubled in the last couple weeks.
"It’s alarming because it is not just that we are seeing more people testing positive for Covid-19- we are seeing more people who need to be hospitalized for COVID-19." said Dr. Amy Person, Health Officer for the Benton and Franklin Heath District.
Dr. Person also says while our hospitals are currently doing well at managing the amount of patients right now- if the increase continues they will not be able to keep up with the demand.
The Benton Franklin Health District say the ongoing rise in community spread boils down to personal behavior. Community members are not wearing face coverings and not staying home.
"Basically it’s personal behavior, across the board. Whether that’s social gatherings, we see them consistently. We see political rallies, we see BBQ's and we see parks full of large gatherings- and yes it’s a concern," said Rick Dawson, Senior Manager for Investigation at the Benton Franklin Health District.
Dawson also says they are tracking additional COVID-19 cases in places of work like food service and grocery stores.
On top of that health leaders are dealing with an outbreak at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center, where more than 100 inmates and staff have tested positive for the Coronavirus.
The Benton and Franklin Health District announced a directive for the public to wear face coverings in the beginning of June. Washington state also has a mandate that calls for employees to wear face coverings while at work.
Dr. Person says they only way we can move to Phase 2 is by the public doing their part.
"Everyone does need to be using face coverings when they are in confined or indoor public places- the reason for that is that we need to stop transmitting this infection to others," Person pleaded.
Right now both county applications to move to Phase 2 are currently on hold with the Washington State Department of Health.
Officials say the applications are on hold because both counties are not meeting the metrics needed to move forward.
If you would like to get tested for COVID-19, the Tri-Cities now has two drive-through testing sites. Call 2-1-1 to make an appointment.