FILE — A sign that reads “Mask is required!” is taped to the front entrance of Nino’s Mexican Grill, 4001 Summitview Ave., Monday, June 22, 2020, in Yakima, Wash.

The Yakima Health District reported 68 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday in Yakima County, the lowest single-day number in weeks.

It also reported two more COVID-19 deaths. The county has now seen 6,736 positive cases total, with the death toll now at 132.

Wednesday’s relatively low new case count comes on the heels of a 72-case increase reported Tuesday, which was also the lowest single-day number in weeks. Daily reports have been in the triple digits throughout late May and early June, with some days seeing more than 200 new cases.

Mask-wearing in public spaces, which experts have identified as a significant factor in preventing the spread of the virus, has increased in the Yakima area in the past few weeks, according to a pair of studies. A survey conducted May 23-24 showed only 35% of Yakima County residents were wearing masks in public. A follow-up survey conducted last weekend showed that number had nearly doubled to 65%.

Yakima County has been a COVID-19 hot spot, both in Washington state and nationally, leading Gov. Jay Inslee to prohibit county businesses from allowing customers to enter without masks starting Friday.

Unlike the Yakima Health District mask directive issued at the beginning of June, the governor’s mandate, announced Tuesday, includes enforcement measures. Those who refuse to wear face coverings in public spaces be charged with misdemeanors, and establishments that do business with people not wearing masks could face gross misdemeanor charges.

A statewide requirement to wear facial coverings also takes effect Friday.

Concert series canceled

The city of Yakima announced two popular summer concert series have been canceled due to COVID-19. The Summer Sunset Concert Series in Franklin Park and the Viva la Musica concert series at Miller and Martin Luther King Jr. parks will not take place this year.

“We are looking into the possibility of rescheduling a couple of concerts for September,” city parks and recreation manager Ken Wilkinson wrote in a news release.

The announcement was largely a formality. Virtually every concert and large gathering scheduled to take place this summer in Yakima had already been canceled. That includes the Downtown Summer Nights series hosted by the Downtown Association of Yakima, which had planned to cancel only the series’ first few shows but on June 1 announced the entire series was canceled.

Coronavirus Coverage

Because of the health and safety concerns, the Herald-Republic is allowing unlimited access with registration to our stories and resources about the novel coronavirus. However, if you’re able to subscribe, please support our journalism. Click here to start your digital subscription.

Reach Pat Muir at pmuir@yakimaherald.com.