More COVID-19 testing is available in Yakima County and testing criteria have been broadened, the Yakima Health District announced Wednesday.
People who experience any symptoms or have been close to someone who tested positive for the virus are encouraged to be tested within 24 hours, said health district spokeswoman Lilian Bravo.
Testing sites will open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day through Saturday at the following locations:
• State Fair Park, 1301 S. Fair Ave. in Yakima.
• Yakama Nation Cultural Center, 100 Spil-Yi Loop in Toppenish.
The announcement came on a day when the county saw a dip in new cases with 68 reported, compared to the 87 new coronavirus cases reported the day before, according to the health district.
Wednesday’s increase brings the total case count to 8,831 and marks a downward trend in the spread of the virus in Yakima County. Of the total number of people infected, 5,683 have recovered. The health district has been tracking cases since March.
Days with cases in the double digits have been more common in July, compared to June when daily cases often were in the triple digits, with some days seeing well over 200 new cases.
There were two more deaths Wednesday, bringing the total death toll to 176 countywide. Of those, 172 were known to have underlying health conditions.
Thirty-two people were hospitalized, with two intubated.
Mask use is up
Much of the progress is attributed to the dramatic increase in people wearing face coverings in public, Bravo said.
During a daily news conference, she reiterated recent reports showing 95% of people masking up in public compared with 65% in June and only 35% in late May.
But masking up alone isn’t enough. People need to follow social distancing guidelines — 6 feet apart from others in public — wash their hands frequently and sanitize surfaces.
“We know that we’re headed in that direction,” Bravo said. “We know that we have seen through several different measures that we are moving in the right direction here in Yakima County.”
She noted Yakima County is the only county at this time in the state that isn’t seeing an increase in the rate of transmission.
Bravo recapped some of the changes involving the county’s “Roadmap to Recovery,” which allows some opening of the economy.
She reaffirmed that churches are only allowed to hold outside services at this time. Initially, churches were told inside services would be allowed at reduced capacity, but the state Department of Health advised against it, the health district said.
Bravo also reminded business owners that limited outside dining is only allowed at restaurants, not breweries and wineries that don’t have meal service.
She encouraged anyone with questions about the safe start to review the ”Roadmap to Recovery” on the health district’s website.
So far, the county has distributed nearly 4 million pieces of personal protection equipment to hospitals, nursing homes, funeral homes and businesses, said Blake Scully of the Office of Emergency Management.
His office has distributed about 900,000 masks to businesses to give to customers and will be receiving 220,000 cloth masks from the federal government to hand out to businesses, he said.
Cloth masks are more efficient for businesses because they can be washed rather than repeatedly tossing out disposable ones, he said.
Scully said his office is working on a plan to get cloth masks to businesses for employees.
Businesses in need of masks are asked to email his office at email@example.com.
• This story has been updated to correct the number of masks the Office of Emergency Management has distributed to businesses.