TRI-CITIES, WA- Although Benton and Franklin counties were moved up to Phase 2 in Washington state's re-opening plan, the same cannot be said for the counties' long-term care facilities.
The long-term care facilities plan is based on the state's re-opening plan but has additional requirements that have to be met. In order to move up in the long-term care facility phase plan, there must be 28 days without a positive or suspected positive case in the facility. There must be adequate staffing, PPE, cleaning supplies, and open capacity in the local hospitals. The last additional requirement is the counties' case numbers must have a case rate of 25-75 cases per 100,000. Right now, Benton county sits at 129.8, and Franklin county sits at 202.8.
"Long-term care facility residents are some of the absolutely most vulnerable people in our community," said Heather Hill the Communicable Diseases Program Manager at the Benton Franklin Health District. "We have to do everything that we can to protect them because once COVID gets into these facilities as we have seen early on this pandemic it can go through those facilities very quickly and we see a high rate of mortality and morbidity."
The Benton Franklin Health District is also urging people to stay focused and vigilant with regard to the virus. They are starting to see an upward trend in positive cases and don't want people to get complacent.
"We have moved into Phase 2 but that doesn't mean we can chance letting our guard down," said Hill. "We still have to as a community do everything in Phase 2 to protect ourselves but even more important protect those vulnerable people in our community."