I hardly see people wearing masks anymore. I don't get out much, but when I do, I've definitely seen less and lees mask usage, all the while COVID-19 cases continue to go up and up. I don't get it.

68 new cases of coronavirus over the last 24 hours were reported by the Benton Franklin Health District along with three deaths. That's a lot.

Plus the youngest victim yet in the Columbia Basin succumbed to COVID-19, a Franklin County man is his 40's, with an unknown medical history, the other two deaths were a Franklin County man in his 70's with an unknown medical history and a Benton County woman in her 90's with underlying health problems.

The case breakdown shows Benton County with a whopping 42 new cases over the last 24 hours for a total of 1093, with 72 fatalities, Franklin County posted 26 new cases in the last day for a total of 897 cases, with 21 deaths.

The Benton Franklin Health District also signaled changes about how data is reported will be coming over the next 30 days. It's been a rough ride so far for the BFHD. From their website:

COVID-19 has challenged our community’s health, economy, mental health, and social norms. It also strained our data reporting systems. It is a bit like trying to put out a wildfire with a garden hose.

Enter your number to get our free mobile app

The first change will be how case numbers are reported. Testing was extremely limited early in the outbreak. Following CDC guidelines, BFHD reported not only lab-confirmed cases, but also probable cases.  Probable cases are people with COVID -19 symptoms who live with or are close contacts of a person who tested positive for COVID-19.

They did this because they knew there were many more people with COVID 19 than the few who were being tested. They felt it painted a more accurate picture of how the disease spread in the community.

Now that testing is more readily available, few probable cases are reported. The Washington State Department of Health is using only lab-confirmed cases in considering our counties’ readiness to move to the next phase. So, starting Monday, BFHD will no longer be reporting probable cases and they will be removed from the total case count.