Brad Peck and Shon Small, Franklin and Benton County Commissioners respectively, have both spoken recently about the importance of all residents in the greater Tri-Cities area to wear a mask, whenever you're out running errands or going inside a local business anywhere, to help stomp the spread of COVID-19 which would allow the Counties to progress through the phases.

Phase 2 is a pipe dream right now.

Currently the applications for both Counties to move to Phase 2 for reopening under Gov. Jay Inslee's four phase Safe Start plan are "on pause" according to the Washington State Department of Health.

What the conditions surrounding the "on pause" label exactly mean remain unclear, but both Commissioners Peck and Small are asking the community to stay vigilant about wearing masks, acknowledging that no one likes to wear them, but if we all think of how our actions affect others, they're imploring you to please make the sacrifice out of decency and respect for the greater good and put one's not mandated, yet, but you're highly encouraged to wear a mask.

Today, the Benton-Franklin Health District reported 54 new positive COVID-19 tests, with 18 new confirmed cases in Franklin County, yesterday, Tuesday, there were 51 and 63 new confirmed cases in Benton and Franklin County, respectively.

Here's how it has to work:

In order to get to the next phase, each county must have fewer than 25 new cases per 100,000 residents over the most recent 14-day period.

Based on population, that means the target for Benton County (Pop. 201,800) is 50 cases in a 14-day period and 24 cases (Pop. 94,680) for Franklin County.

For the week of June 2 through June 15, Benton County confirmed 134 cases, almost three times its target. Franklin County confirmed about 280 cases over the 2-week period, more than a whopping eleven times the target.

Next phase? For now? Not a chance.

Wear a mask.

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