Many Yakima County businesses have been able to keep operating despite the state’s stay-at-home order because they’ve been deemed essential and critical.

A new study from the Brookings Institution showed the Yakima Valley likely will fare better economically than many other locations dealing with COVID-19.

According to Yakima County employment figures from the first quarter of 2018, about 63% of jobs overall are in industries considered essential, including agriculture and health care.

The Brooking Institution study, which was posted March 17, examines metropolitan areas nationwide. The communities that are expected to be most affected are areas whose economies are tied to the energy and tourism industries.

The study also notes the top five industries that are expected to be most affected by COVID-19: mining, transportation, employment services, travel, leisure and hospitality.

The Brookings study determined that of all metro areas nationwide, the Yakima metropolitan area is listed in the bottom two communities in terms of expected economic effects from the virus. Communities with manufacturing and agricultural ties are expected to be the least affected. The study states that just 9.2% of the Yakima metropolitan area’s workforce is tied to affected industries.

Here’s an update from local businesses:

Hair rescue

Studio 16 Salon and Spa in Yakima is closed until at least April 7. However, the salon did one last thing to ensure that some of its regular customers wouldn’t have to be at the mercy of at-home box kits if their color starts fading away.

In the days before closing, the salon sold “Hairline Rescue Kits” that feature a custom blend of the customer’s hair color and can be used for touch-ups. Each kit includes the dye and detailed instructions.

It’s not a solution for everyone; the kits are only for those with all-over color because highlights require additional technical skill.

Restaurant updates

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Coronavirus Cases

Source: Yakima Health District, Yakima Herald-Republic reporting

Many local diners had been anticipating the reopening of the Ding Ho Chinese Restaurant at its new location. The restaurant closed at its former location at 1502 W. Washington Ave. in September.

The restaurant — now called Tasty Wok — finally reopened, but just for a short time. With the state’s restrictions on restaurants, it offered only takeout from its new location, 3312 W. Nob Hill Blvd., for a short time and then decided to close temporarily to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

Local diners were eager to get their fix, though, even with the restrictions. “We were crazy busy all day, and it was all thanks to your generosity,” the restaurant wrote Monday on its Facebook page, noting that a “volume of people” came in the two days the restaurant was open.

“Most of us have elders (in our lives),” the owners wrote. “All it takes (is) one person to spread it. We will close temporarily for the safety and health of our customers. We love our customers and want to see you all healthy!”

Restaurants and quick-service eateries can remain open under the state’s “Stay Healthy, Stay Home” order if they limit service to delivery and takeout and practice social distancing guidelines. However, some local food establishments have opted to close anyway for the safety of employees and customers.

Another food business that decided to close is 5 Salsas, a taco food truck that had primarily been serving out of Single Hill Brewing Co. in downtown Yakima. On Monday, the business encouraged customers to stay home on a Facebook post announcing the closure.

“We have made the decision to support those who have put their lives on the line for us and #stayhome,” it wrote. “We hope to be back in business soon, but for now, we will keep our distance to help our community.”

Closure doesn’t end community engagement

Meraki Creations, a breakfast and lunch eatery in Yakima, also opted to close. Owner Angie Devora said she “will not compromise the safety of my staff, and community and family who I love so very much. I have every intention of opening once our community is safe again.”

Before closing, Devora had been making free sack lunches for the elderly and others in need. Gov. Jay Inslee took note of the effort and mentioned Devora in his address Monday as well as on Twitter.

Devora will continue that effort and is also offering free delivery through a partnership with the Champions Foundation. Lunches will be available to 50 people daily. They can be picked up from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the restaurant at 1510 Summitview Ave. or through delivery. Delivery orders must be placed by 10 a.m. and should include a name, phone number and delivery address.

Coronavirus Coverage

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For the foreseeable future, the Yakima Herald-Republic will be publishing a weekly update on the Yakima Valley business community and the coronavirus pandemic in place of The Current column. Send updates and news tips to Mai Hoang at maihoang@yakimaherald.com or Twitter @maiphoang