SUNNYSIDE — La Vaquerita, a clothing store owned and operated by the Romero family, have tapped into a youthful and industrious approach handled by Martin, 16, and Uriel, 11, for helping their parents generate an income during the COVID-19 pandemic by selling face coverings outside the downtown store, which have now been made mandatory by the Washington State Department of Health on Friday, June 26.
Since the Yakima Health District (YHD) issued its face covering directive 28 days ago, officials reported Friday that 65% of the people are now wearing a mask in public, up from 35% in a survey conducted May 23 and 24. The local business campaign, “Mask Up to Open Up’” has increased the amount of public mask usage by 85% from the Memorial Day Holiday weekend.
Lilian Bravo, YHD spokesperson and director of public health partnerships, issued information from a new data report by the Institute for Disease Modeling (IDM) which indicates progress is being made to help reduce the spread of the virus.
The report states, “In Yakima County, we see a decline in COVID-19 cases consistent with declining prevalence from an estimated peak in late May, suggesting that recent public health focus and mitigation efforts are having some success.”
The Romero brothers have been setting up shop with an assortment of face masks on tabletop mannequins at 641 E. Edison around noon until about 7 p.m. during the weekday for the past three weeks.
“We’re helping our parents pay bills,” explained Martin. “We work hard and try to sell a lot,” Uriel added as the sales team duo provided attentive customer service to Leo and Edna Palacios of Sunnyside Thursday evening.
The couple were in their car at the four-way stop sign and saw the protective masks on display. They decided to park around the corner and visit the display counter. After looking at a variety of designer face coverings, Edna purchased a couple for herself.
Uriel said they keep their customers updated about the arrival of new merchandise by posting pictures on social media. He also mentioned that people can place an order online and when the product becomes available, they put the face covering in a package for pickup.
“All of our masks have different prices,” Martin conveyed. “We help out our community for people who don’t have masks and for everyone to be more protected.”
When asked about how he likes selling masks Uriel replied, “Like some people who are rich don’t feel when they’re poor and it actually helps you out a lot. You can be happy when you sell and be proud of yourself when you sell something.”
The statewide mask order is in place until further notice and is required to be worn in indoor public places and outdoors where people cannot maintain social distance guidelines of six feet distance from others.
DOH officials report face coverings are safe for most people, but some people with certain health or medical conditions who can’t wear them safely can be exempt from the order. There is no special card issued or explanation needed.
Should a business not allow the person to enter their establishment without a face covering, customers are advised to enquire about what accommodations they can provide such as curb-side pick-up, delivery, or virtual options.
“Our collective efforts are working,” Dr. Teresa Everson, YHD health officer, communicated in a release last week. “Let’s continue to work together to further slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community and show that we have the commitment to safely open up sooner rather than later.”