Mask wearing is going down and COVID-19 cases are going up across the Columbia Basin. Benton and Franklin Counties are both in serious jeopardy of having to get dialed back to Phase 2 in Washington's Covid recovery plan because of the alarming spikes in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

With a statewide evaluation scheduled for next week, Benton and Franklin Counties must get back on track. Sadly, it might be too late.

The Franklin County case rate has shot up to over 300 cases in the last two-week reported period, Benton County tallied 196 new cases over the same time frame.

That is not going to cut it.

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Both measuring metrics, case rates and new hospitalizations, have to fail to warrant a regressive phase move. It’s looking likely Franklin County will have to go back to phase 2 next week, Benton County is still to close to call as of this writing.

Rick Dawson with the Benton Franklin Health District told KEPR-TV we all need to collectively stay sharp and focused remembering that we are all still together in the effort to turn this around.

"We have the ability to do things, and whether it’s for this time period or the next, if we do better, it helps us keep this community and our economy moving forward, that's important to all of us. Just like the health and safety of our community is important, the economic stability is as well."

Dawson says it is a must to continue to wear your masks, say socially distanced, avoid large crowds, and maybe above all, get vaccinated.

Counties are individually evaluated every three weeks. The next evaluation is scheduled for May 3rd.

Go here for the breakdown of every county as it relates to COVID-19 in Washington.

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