Yakima County health officials warned Thursday against people lowering their guard to the threat of COVID-19 over the Labor Day weekend.
In recent weeks daily case numbers have been consistently low, relative to June and July, allowing the county to add new activities such as indoor dining and small outdoor gatherings to its modified Phase 1 status of the state’s Safe Start program. But lapses over the three-day weekend have the potential to reverse that trend and undo the progress the county has made, according to a Yakima Health District news release.
“We know that Labor Day is typically a day to gather with friends and family, but it is still dangerous for high risk individuals to get together with people outside of their immediate household in a large setting,” Dr. Teresa Everson, the district’s health officer, said in the release.
“As a reminder, large gatherings are still not permitted under our current Modified Phase 1. Gathering in this way can cause a spike in COVID-19 infections which may further delay reopening of our schools and may also put our community at risk of having to close again. We urge you to celebrate this holiday in a way that does not risk the safety of your friends, your family or your community. Staying home, away from other people outside of your household, is still the safest option.”
Outdoor social gatherings are limited to five people outside of one’s household. But even those aren’t completely safe, the release said.
“As we make plans for Labor Day weekend and other celebrations, please remember that the only 100% risk-free activity is avoiding contact with those outside of your household,” it said.
That said, the risk can be mitigated by wearing masks within 6 feet of others, washing or sanitizing hands frequently and avoiding physical contact such as hugs, handshakes and kisses. Those who don’t feel well should stay home, the release said.
The health district’s daily COVID report Thursday showed another day of relatively slow spread of the disease. There were 17 new cases, making it 10 straight days with fewer than 50. Daily case counts in the triple digits were the standard earlier this summer. There have been 11,722 cases counted since March.
There were no new deaths reported Thursday, keeping that total at 228. Fourteen people were hospitalized, down from 15 Wednesday. But four people were intubated, up from two.
Another 51 people were considered to have recovered, bringing that total to 10,478.