YAKIMA — With Washington state breaking new records for hospitalizations, Yakima Valley Memorial hospital is encouraging the community to get vaccinated and follow Governor Inslee’s new mask mandate.
The mask mandate will go into effect Monday, August 23, for all residents ages 5 and older, regardless of vaccination status. There are also new vaccine requirements for K-12 and higher education educators and staff, as well as childcare providers.
The announcement comes as more than 95% of the COVID hospitalizations are among the unvaccinated, according to the state Dept. of Health. Hospitals across the state are straining under this surge, and an unprecedented shortage of healthcare workers.
The Yakima Health District reported 297 new cases of COVID-19 just yesterday, Wednesday, August 18. “The positivity rate in Yakima County is now over 30% — the highest rate we have seen during the entire pandemic. This is extremely concerning,” says Dr. Tanny Davenport, Memorial’s Physician Executive for the Medical Group.
According to a release by Yakima Valley Memorial, COVID patients are being admitted at the highest rate since January.
“We implore you to follow the new mask mandate. When the first mask mandate went into effect in June of 2020, COVID cases dropped dramatically. There was a direct correlation,” said the release. “While people were wearing masks and social distancing, we essentially ‘skipped’ flu season in 2020/2021, with only a small number of flu cases compared to thousands of such cases in a typical year.”
According to the mask mandate: masks are required in most public indoor spaces, including restaurants and grocery stores. Masks will not be required for private, small indoor gatherings among vaccinated individuals. Masks will continue to be required for unvaccinated workers at their place of employment, regardless of whether it is public-facing or not.