In the fight against COVID-19, Yakima County was singled out by Gov. Jay Inslee for significantly reducing the spread of the highly infectious disease during the Joint Information Center media briefing and his press conference last week.

The Gov. reported that the numbers of infections confirmed in the county have come down dramatically since early July. He praised the collective efforts of all the communities that make our Central Washington region an extraordinary place and one that we are proud to call home.

State officials were unable to explain how our cooperative and teamwork approach in making a difference to curb the virus transmission – and they could only come up with the mask up campaign which was implemented before the statewide mandate took effect.

Wearing face coverings has proven to be an effective factor in lowering the risk of communicable infection and has become an apparent safeguard – one that’s easily observed by politicians but that’s not the only reason.

By joining together to make a positive difference within our neighborhoods and towns, once again Yakima Valley’s leadership actions are strongly on display for other counties to follow. That’s the underlying attribute government officials were unable to clearly recognize or communicate effectively.

As the new school year is upon us, regardless of whether lower valley students are attending school online or on campus, there’s a local lesson which should empower everyone’s resolve to keep these hard-working actions at the forefront and for Yakima County to write our own history about COVID-19.

Throughout the county and over the past 6 months, we’ve learned there are two main reasons to wear masks. We understand it protects the wearer, but here in the lower valley and within all of us, there’s a strong feeling that masks protect others from catching the infection by those wearing protective coverings. And that’s what makes us an exceptional example, not only on a statewide level but on a national scene.

In Yakima County, we clearly understand what the COVID-19 unified theme of “We’re in this Together” truly means.

Patrick Shelby for the Sunnyside Sun editorial board.

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