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FILE — Amanda Brown, a registered nurse with Signal Health, examines sealed test samples at a COVID-19 community testing site Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, near the SunDome administration office in Yakima, Wash.

The Yakima Health District recorded another 223 COVID-19 cases on Saturday, with Yakima County leading the region in new cases and percentage of positive tests.

The state’s new reopening plan sets goals by region of a 10% decrease in cases and hospitalizations 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 plan divides the state into eight regions based on health care services.

The state said Friday that all eight regions will remain in Phase 1 through at least Jan. 18 with another update on Jan. 15. Yakima County is in the south central region with Benton, Columbia, Franklin, Kittitas and Walla Walla counties.

Yakima County has averaged 225.9 cases a day in the past seven days. The county’s rate of new cases from Dec. 16-29 was 1,076 per 100,000 people, according to the state Department of Health. That’s the worst rate in the region and the second-worst in the state. The county’s test positivity rate was 45% from Dec. 22-28, the worst in the region and the state.

  • The south central region’s COVID-19 case rate per 100,000 was down 4% compared to the prior two weeks, but did not meet the 10% benchmark.
  • The COVID test positivity rate was 21%, which did not meet the 10% benchmark.
  • Hospitalizations per 100,000 for Dec. 20 to Jan. 2 increased by 12% compared to the prior two weeks.
  • Staffed ICU beds in the south central region were 93% filled from Dec. 27-Jan. 2.

Case update

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County health officials reported 223 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday, with no new deaths. That brings the total number of cases reported since mid-March to 22,992, according to the Yakima Health District.

The number of deaths remained at 317, the health district reported. Forty-eight people were hospitalized as of Saturday, a decrease of eight from Friday, while the number of people intubated decreased from four to three.

Health officials reported that 16,655 people have recovered.

Vaccination update

Yakima County and the rest of Washington state are in the first phase of COVID-19 vaccination distribution, with doses going to workers in health care, first responders and staff and residents at long-term care centers. People who fall into those categories can go to the Yakima Health District website for information on where to get a vaccine. Astria Health said it is taking appointments for people who fall into the A1 and A2 categories.

The state this week released guidance on the next round of vaccinations, which prioritizes people 70 and older and people 50 and over who live in multi-generational households. The Yakima Health District said Yakima County likely will not move into the B phase until mid- to late February, depending on how much vaccine is available locally.

The state Department of Health is launching an online tool called PhaseFinder on Jan. 18, which people can use to find out where and when they can be vaccinated. State officials asked people in the B category to wait a while longer before calling for an appointment.

Reach Donald W. Meyers at dmeyers@yakimaherald.com or on Twitter: donaldwmeyers, or https://www.facebook.com/donaldwmeyersjournalist.