201216-yh-news-hospitalizations-8.jpg

Motorists line up at a COVID-19 community testing site Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020, in the north parking lot at State Fair Park in Yakima, Wash. Nearby in the State Fair Room, the Yakima Health District hosted a press conference regarding the significant rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations in Yakima County.

The Yakima Health District reported 328 new COVID-19 cases Friday, with three more deaths.

The county has had 22,769 coronavirus cases and 317 deaths since mid-March, according to the health district.

Fifty-six people were hospitalized Friday, with four people intubated. A total of 16,655 people have recovered.

Yakima County had about 1,076 cases per 100,000 people from Dec. 16-29, and a test positivity rate of 45% from Dec. 22-28, according to the state Department of Health.

The state announced a new business reopening plan Tuesday, which sets goals of a 10% decrease in cases and hospitalizations by region over two weeks to move from Phase 1 to Phase 2. Other objectives include an ICU occupancy rate of less than 90% and a test positivity rate of less than 10%.

The metrics will be released by region on Fridays by the Department of Health. In this week’s update, all regions remain in Phase 1 of reopening.

“We know that all people in Washington want to move forward as quickly as possible with respect to COVID-19. However, these metrics show that we are just not ready to do so now,” state Secretary of Health Umair Shah said in a statement. “We have made progress but need to continue to work together to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 across our state.”

Yakima County is in the south central region with Benton, Columbia, Franklin, Kittitas and Walla Walla counties.

Margaux Maxwell reports for the Yakima Herald-Republic and the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. She can be reached at mmaxwell@yakimaherald.com.

Digital News Director

Margaux Maxwell reports for the Yakima Herald-Republic and the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. She can be reached at mmaxwell@yakimaherald.com.