Benton and Franklin County COVID numbers getting closer to hybrid learning

WASHINGTON- The Benton Franklin Health District is still continuing to see a downward trend in new COVID-19 numbers for both Benton and Franklin counties. The county they are seeing the most positive trend between the two is Benton County.

"Based on our most recent numbers it does show that Benton County has gone below the 75 per 100,000 over a 14 day period ending yesterday, these are preliminary numbers and do not reflect the true disease activity," said Dr. Amy Person who is a health officer for the Benton Franklin Health District.

Those preliminary numbers don't take into account potential cases that may have been contracted during the holiday weekend. The two counties have seen previous spikes after holiday weekends but if residents did what they were supposed to do, those preliminary numbers could become concrete according to Dr. Person.

"I am optimistic if residents of Benton and Franklin county over the Labor Day holiday continued to practice those infection control habits that they have been doing, the masking, maintaining physical distance, keeping gatherings down to five or less people outside of the household and stay home when sick," said Dr. Person. "This preliminary finding may be something that will hold true over the next 2 weeks."

 The health district is also urging people to get the influenza vaccine this year. They are urging people to get the vaccine, so that both COVID-19 and the flu aren't active in the community when flu season begins.

"What we don’t know is the effects of having both COVID-19 and influenza active in our community at the same time, our worst-case scenario is that we would see both viruses acting together acting together synergistically," said Dr. Person. 
 
If the numbers were to stay the same or drop after the 14 day period then the possibility of hybrid learning in school could become a reality. The health district and school districts have been working together to develop a plan when that metric is met. But Dr. Person did note once the metric is met schools won't adjust to hybrid learning the exact next day. 
 
 
"There is preparation and work that is going on right now and will likely need to go on for some days after we reach that level," said Dr. Person. "But the commitment the community continues to show, says that we will be reaching that point of having kids back in school for hybrid learning earlier rather than later this fall."

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