UPDATE: The Yakima Health District clarified the statement about not having enough beds for those with COVID-19 at Virginia Mason Memorial hospital. Today, they stated they do have enough beds, but not enough workers.
The Chief Medical Officer at Virginia Mason Memorial told NBC Right Now that this is a workforce issue that does not allow the correct amount of health care workers that are needed to assist those with COVID-19.
Right now the hospital is not at capacity. Health officials said Wednesday that there are a total of 226 ICU beds in the hospital that can flex up to 256 if necessary. As of today, the hospital is reporting 188 beds are occupied.
YAKIMA, WA - Right now Yakima County is a COVID-19 hot spot with 6,326 cases to date. As the number of Covid-19 cases continue to rise at an alarming rate for the small county, Governor Jay Inlsee who raised his sons in Yakima is calling the situation "tragic" and he is warning the public to take action now.
"Time is of the essence in our efforts to prevent the imminent explosion of the COVID-19 pandemic in Yakima County," he said.
Yakima has the highest rate of Covid-19 per capita in the Western United States according to Governor Inlsee.
With over 6,000 cases of Coronavirus and 138 deaths, nearly 460 people have been hospitalized since the outbreak began.
Yakima County now represents 22% of COVID-19 hospitalized patients in the state of Washington- a striking number considering the population is about 250,000 people.
On Thursday, Virginia Mason Memorial hospital reached capacity and has not been able to keep up with the demand. Since then at least 17 patients have been transferred to the Seattle area for care.
In a statement Yakima Health Officer, Dr. Teresa Everson pleaded with the public to avoid social gatherings.
“As a community, we have no choice but to come together to protect Yakima. We must take immediate action. We cannot allow our friends and neighbors to die waiting for space at the hospital or waiting to be transferred,” she said.
In the beginning of June local health leaders issued a mask and social distancing directive, which encourages the public to wear face coverings and stay at home, but does not enforce it.
However, moving forward Governor Inslee is stepping in with new, legal face covering requirements for the public and businesses in the area.
"Businesses will be legally required not to sell products or services to those who are not in compliance with this requirement- no masks no service. No mask, no goods," he said on Saturday.
Inslee says the order is enforceable and is expected to roll out in the next couple days. The governor also says he is working closely with local leaders on additional measures to help avoid further spread of the virus.
RELATED NEWS: Here in Benton and Franklin Counties we have seen hospitalizations double in the past couple weeks.
In fact, today the Benton and Franklin Health District is reporting nearly 300 new Coronavirus cases in the Tri-Cities.
Local health officials say the number of Covid-19 cases are directly tied to people not staying home and not wearing face coverings.