FREE COVID-19 DRIVE-THRU TESTING — Yakima County Center of Emergency Operations and Yakima Health District, along with two separate National Guard teams, perform remote virus testing to more than 150 people at Harrison Middle School on Friday, May 22. According to Jackie Follansbee, public health unit official, persons displaying any of the COVID-19 symptoms which include cough; fever; difficulty breathing; headache; sore throat; chills; muscle pain; and loss of taste or smell were given the swab through the nose test. Once the sample was collected, people were provided with an education packet in both English or Spanish from the Department of Health. “We’re also taking the opportunity at the end of their visit to reinforce the mask usage and proper Personal Protective Equipment,” Follansbee said. The information tells people how to keep oneself safe and what to do if anyone should test positive and how to protect family members in the home. Test results were expected to take three to five days.

SUNNYSIDE — Police Chief Al Escalera announced Tuesday, May 26, that over the weekend, the remaining COVID‑19 tests returned confirming negative results on all inmates, however, one more employee has tested positive confirming 12 of his staff have contracted the highly contagious virus.

“The inmate who had contracted COVID in early May is recovering well and is near the end of his isolation period,” Chief Escalera said.

“All of our staff have now been tested except one who was out on leave for a different reason,” he confirmed. “We’ll be requesting a test for her when she gets back on duty.”

Escalera said corrections staff and inmates have been staying on top of cleaning the jail facilities and living quarters as part of the protocols adopted at the Homer Street facility.

“We will be asking for another deep clean of the department,” he added.

Yakima Health District staff were at the Law and Justice Center to test personnel for the virus, following the early morning testing on Friday, May 15, and Tuesday evening testing, May 18.

Since the first reports of confirmed COVID-19 cases at the Law and Justice Center over the weekend of May 9 and 10, the city has worked with the YHD on steps for managing the outbreak.

Meanwhile, some of the department’s first employees who received positive tests as of May 11 have begun to return to duty after remaining asymptomatic for 10-plus days, Escalera stated.

He said none of those testing positive required hospitalization and some showed no signs of the disease at all.

“As of today (Tuesday, May 26), 5 of the 12 employees have recovered and returned to full duty,” Escalera announced.

“We are in this for the long haul,” he acknowledged.

“We are continuing to provide the best public safety we can under the circumstances and adjusting to the restrictions imposed on us,” Escalera declared.

He urged residents to help reduce further spread of COVID-19 by practicing social distancing, washing hands frequently, sanitizing commonly used surfaces, wearing face masks in public, washing reusable face masks after use, and staying home if able.

Julia Hart can be reached at 509-837-4500, ext. 123 or at

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