According to the latest information released from the Benton Franklin Health District, new cases of coronavirus keep piling up as the results for Wednesday show out of 477 tests, 130, or 27%, have come back positive for COVID-19.

Of the 130 new positive tests, 58 cases are in Benton County and 72 are in Franklin County, bringing the total number of county cases to 1,522 in Benton County and 1,403 in Franklin County.

Officials say 13,349 people have been tested to date, 2,925 have tested positive, or about 22%.

There have been a total of 97 deaths in the Columbia Basin due to COVID-19. 73 people have passed away in Benton County and 24 people have died in Franklin County.

So while advancing to the next phase in the state of Washington's Safe Start Reopening Plan seems like a long shot at best right now, something that can be proactively done is follow the lead of the Tri-City Region Chamber of Commerce and sign the Tri-Cities Open & Safe Business Pledge.

The Tri-Cities Open and Safe Coalition launched "Tri-Cities Open and Safe," a region-wide initiative to support and recognize local businesses as the Tri-Cities begins to slowly reopen. The intent of the initiative is to protect public health and restore our local economy.

The businesses who sign the pledge avow to follow guidelines set forth by the public health district

•Enhance employee protocols including increased regular education, hand washing, sanitation efforts, and social distancing

•Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces frequently, per CDC, State and Local Health Officials

•Require and/or encourage the use of face coverings by staff and customers

•Reduce occupancy in common spaces to ensure compliance with CDC and State, and local social distancing guidelines•Encourage customer use of face coverings, social distance and hand washing (as available)

Wear a mask. It works. And it's mandatory in Washington beginning Friday, June 26, 2020.

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