The statewide mask order which went into effect on June 26 requiring individuals to wear a face covering in indoor public spaces and outdoors when people are unable to stay six feet apart from others has been helping to make a positive difference throughout the lower valley – we cannot let down our guard against COVID-19 as Yakima County moves to Phase 1.5 of the Safe Start Washington plan.

Face coverings have become a part of our normal routine and everyday attire, which are now and must remain in healthy fashion, along with social distance mandates as the responsibility for slowing down the spread of the virus begins with each of us – they’re effective and inexpensive, and yes, they can be uncomfortable and inconvenient.

COVID-19 doesn’t recognize city limits, county boundaries or political affiliations. And it’s not going away any time soon. We must work together to protect our families, friends, and neighbors by wearing fabric face coverings, scarves and bandana coverings, or other material as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which are meant to keep us safe.

Wearing a protective face covering matched with social distance protocols demonstrates our compassion for one another and sets a courageous example for all to follow in demonstrating our patriotic spirit in fighting this disease.

Keep in mind to wash your hands often. Watch what you touch. Avoid touching your face when you have touched surfaces you have not cleaned yourself.

Conventional wisdom suggests that when a sickness is mild, it’s not too much to worry about. But if you’re taking comfort in World Health Organization reports that over 80% of global COVID-19 cases are mild or asymptomatic, think again.

As virologists race to understand the biomechanics of SARS-CoV-2, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: even “mild” cases can be more complicated, dangerous and harder to shake than many first thought.

Throughout the pandemic, an idea has persevered is that people who have “mild” cases of COVID-19 and don’t require an intensive care unit (ICU) of medical treatment or the use of a ventilator are spared from serious health effects. This narrative leads us to believe that the “mildly infected” patients’ ordeal ends within two weeks of becoming ill, at which point they recover and everything goes back to normal, but this may not be the case.

Doctors are still trying to learn and understand the evolving and possibly long-lasting side-effects contracted from the disease. They now know the virus not only affects the lungs and blood, but kidneys, liver and brain as well.

It’s our time to be supportive of one another while encouraging our community to make a healthy difference by practicing the recommendations that can help keep us all safe — wear a mask, wash your hands, practice social distancing and avoid large crowds.

Let’s keep the momentum rolling forward in protecting our community and safeguarding Yakima County’s freedom.

Patrick Shelby can be contacted at 509-837-4500, ext. 110 or email

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