Have a Happy and Safe 4th of July
Posted on 07/01/2020
Safe and Happy 4th of July

We know many of you watch our COVID-19 case count number closely every day. We have heard your questions:

  • When are we moving to Phase 2?
  • Are we still in Phase 1?

These are all good questions.

Reason for concern.

The case count metric has a target of 25 new cases per 100,000 people over a two-week period. That means that Benton County’s target is no more than 50 new cases in two weeks and Franklin County’s target is 24. When we applied for Phase 2 weeks ago, our case counts per 100,000 residents was 132.8 in Benton County and 298.9 in Franklin County. As of today’s case count, those numbers have risen to 165.01 in Benton County and 409.8 in Franklin County  

What is happening?

We looked closely at the data to learn where the increase in cases is coming from. People may want to point to one group or another. Is it long term care centers? How about food processors and farmworkers? Graduation parties? Mother’s Day and Father’s Day celebrations? Weekend gatherings? People not social distancing or wearing face coverings in public?

YES, it is all of the above and more!

We need to work together.

COVID-19 continues to be widespread in Benton and Franklin Counties. It affects every geographic area of our community, all age groups, and all ethnic groups. In the last few weeks, we have seen more cases among those 40 and under. We have seen cases among businesses. This tells us people are going out and about, being exposed, and exposing others.

COVID-19 spreads when people come in contact with other people. Any close contact where droplets can spread, spreads COVID-19. That includes any gathering of two or more people: in a work setting, at a social gathering, in a recreation setting, in a business, or at a demonstration. COVID-19 can spread anytime and anywhere people gather. And, droplets can spread COVID-19 even if the infected person does not feel sick.

We are worried as it continues to increase and is not leveling off.  We strongly urge everyone to stay the course with precautions.

What you can do.

In the meantime, we urge everyone to help improve our numbers: Wear a face covering. Last week, Governor Inslee ordered everyone to wear face coverings in public when you cannot reasonably stay six feet or more away from others. This does not mean you need to wear face coverings at home or when alone in a private space like a car or office. But you should when you are out and about. Wearing really is caring.

You can also:

  • Stay close to home.
  • Interact with a small circle of friends and family.
  • Keep gatherings small. 
  • Get tested for COVID-19 if you have participated in any large gatherings.
  • Wash your hands, cover your cough, and keep up your best hygiene and sanitation.

What does all of this mean for July 4th?

Benton and Franklin County are in Phase 1 of the state’s Safe Start Recovery Plan. Gatherings are limited to people in your household. This restriction helps us continue to control the spread of COVID-19. While we’ll have to skip the big Fourth of July celebrations this year, we encourage people to come up with creative ways to connect socially.

Make it a Holiday not a Hazard

The safest choice this holiday is to celebrate at home. If you elect to celebrate in other ways, choose activities that take place outdoors, allow for enough room to maintain physical distancing, and involve fewer people. Below are some extra tips for enjoying the holiday safely:

  • Stay home if you’re sick or if you have an underlying medical condition that puts you at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
  • If you host a gathering, provide hand sanitizer or give people easy access to places where they can frequently wash their hands.
  • Adjust your food offerings to avoid sharing utensils and offer individual servings. Don’t share drinks.
  • During and afterward thoroughly clean all frequently touched areas your guests have access to.
  • Wear a mask if you cannot maintain 6 feet of physical distance.

By knowing and understanding the risk of our actions and activities, we can make informed decisions that not only impact our own health but also protect the health of everyone around us.  Remember: We all have a role in regaining the health of our community.