Yakima Flags

YAKIMA, WA — As of this morning, over 9,698 Yakima County residents have been infected with COVID19.

In an effort to illustrate the impact of COVID-19, community volunteers working with the Yakima Health District (YHD) are creating a visual display of the scope of the virus in our county. Volunteers placed red flags at Chesterly Park along 40th Avenue, to represent each local resident who tested positive for COVID-19 and black flags for those who have died due to the virus.

“I feel like we’ve become numb to the numbers,” say Leola Reeves, the community member that proposed the display. “I think if people can actually see just how many people are truly impacted, they’ll understand why it’s so important to continue social distancing and wearing masks.”

Lilian Bravo, Director of Public Health Partnership for YHD, agrees. Bravo notes that while the daily number of COVID-19 cases in Yakima County have declined over the past month, cases are rising throughout the state. She notes that now is not the time become complacent.

“It is truly amazing how the residents in our communities have come together and done the hard work to reduce the spread of new cases. It’s because of that, we’ve been able to open a number of our small, local businesses,” says Bravo.“We understand it’s not easy, but the longer we can keep from meeting in groups, staying at least 6 feet away from those outside our households, and wear masks, the more we’ll see our local communities return to some semblance of normalcy.”

Bravo noted that local businesses deserve immense credit for being innovative and proactive in developing measures to keep customers safe and comfortable amidst the rapidly changing COVID-19 landscape. She says a lot of the success we’ve seen wouldn’t have been possible without their support.

Reeves says that while the flag display at Chesterly Park is a small gesture, she hopes that when local residents see it, the numbers will remind them of just how far-reaching this virus is. “It’s easy to see the number of positive cases in the newspaper and not really register the people that make up that number,” says Reeves. “By representing each person individually, we hope to show the toll this virus had already taken on our valley. And, if people think about the family members, friends, and coworkers each of these individuals may have unknowingly exposed, we can see how close COVID-19 really is to each and every one of us.”

The display at Chesterly Park is intended to make a brief but impactful statement. It will be removed on Thursday, July 23. More information and resources regarding social distancing are available at yakimatogether.org.

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