YAKIMA VALLEY — The Yakima Health District (YHD) is continuing to monitor COVID-19 disease activity and Yakima County is experiencing a steady increase in COVID-19 cases. As of July 15, Yakima County reported a case rate of 501 per 100,000 and a hospitalization rate of 5.0 per 100,000. About a month ago on June 10, Yakima County reported a case rate of 230 per 100,000 and a hospitalization rate of 0.4 per 100,000. The case rate has more than doubled and at the same time, we are seeing the impacts of the BA.5 variant and its transmissibility.
The BA.5 variant has been spreading quickly throughout the state and country. From June 19-25 in Washington State of the specimens that were sequenced, 37.3% were the BA.5 variant. Across the country, the BA.5 variant has become the dominant strain. Data shows that the BA.5 variant is better at evading preexisting immunity if individuals were previously infected or are without a booster dose. Utilizing a combination of public health recommendations are crucial to prevent future infections. Additionally, COVID-19 vaccines are successful in providing protection against hospitalization and death. As of July 11, of individuals 6 months and older in Yakima County, 59.5% have completed their primary series and 44.6% of those 5 years and older have received a booster dose.