Masks mandatory in Yakima County amid COVID-19 spike

Coronavirus

Inslee said face masks in Yakima County now a 'legal requirement'

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee talks about the high rate of coronavirus cases in the area during a news conference at Yakima Valley College Tuesday, June 16, 2020, in Yakima, Wash. Inslee met with leaders in local government, health care and business to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the area, which has one of the highest rates of infection in the state. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Governor Jay Inslee has ordered that Washingtonians living in Yakima County must wear face masks in public.

Inslee said Saturday at a press conference that there is the potential for an “imminent explosion” of the coronavirus and that wearing a mask until further noice would be a “legal requirement.”

The county has the highest rate of COVID-19 per capita in the western United States. Twenty-two percent of hospitalizations statewide have come from Yakima County, the governor said.

“Yakima County has more cases than the total case count in the entire state of Oregon,” he added.

The move comes as the rest of the state continues to climb out of the pandemic through phases. On Wednesday, Inslee announced updated guidelines to how religious services are conducted throughout the state. As part of Washington’s Phase 3 reopening stage, more people will be able to partake in faith-based gatherings. Phase 3 permits an indoor capacity of 50% or 400 people — whichever is the lesser number. Face covering requirements will remain in place.

Washington state counties still in modified Phases 1 and 2 will be allowed to have indoor services at 25% capacity or 200 people — again, whichever is less. For services taking place in counties still in the regular Phase 1, only outdoor gatherings are permitted with 100 or fewer people.

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