Two more deaths due to complications of COVID-19, the youngest a man in his 40s, were reported Friday by the Benton Franklin Health District.
The new cases came as 43 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 were announced on Friday as the Washington State Department of Health cleared a backlog of case data. Some of the new reported cases stem from that numbers adjustment.
The COVID-19 vaccine is widely available in the Tri-Cities area, with one pop-up clinic in Pasco this weekend planning a $1,000 drawing for those who get the shot.
The man in his 40s who died recently was a Franklin County resident and the other man who died was a Benton County resident in his 80s.
The local health district reports COVID-19 deaths weekly and last month reported deaths averaged just over two a week for nine total in May, down from 12 in April.
The latest deaths bring the total since the start of the pandemic to 329, including 219 Benton County residents and 110 Franklin County residents.
The deaths include 136 people 80 or older; 90 in their 70s; 63 in their 60s; 26 in their 50s; 10 in their 40s; one each in their 30s and 20s; and two people younger than 20.
Local public health officials verify that the deaths are due to COVID complications by checking for a positive test result and that a coronavirus infection was named as a primary cause of death on the death certificate.
The 43 new confirmed COVID cases reported on Friday brought total cases since the start of the pandemic to more than 29,000 for the Tri-Cities area.
New known cases Friday were up from 32 reported on Thursday and 33 on Wednesday for Benton and Franklin counties.
The 43 new cases Friday included 32 in Benton County and 11 in Franklin County.
They bring the total cases reported for the week, starting with the weekend, to 199.
New cases averaged 28 per day, up from 23 the last week of May and matching the average daily cases reported the week before that.
There have been 29,007 new cases confirmed since the start of the pandemic in the Tri-Cities area, including 16,714 in Benton County and 12,293 in Franklin County.
The Benton Franklin Health District continues to report COVID outbreaks.
Currently there are five outbreaks in businesses, with one pending investigation, according to its weekly report.
In addition there are two outbreaks in schools, with one pending investigation, and a pending investigation in a childcare setting. There also is one outbreak in a health care setting.
More people have been hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19 in the Tri-Cities area the first week of June than the previous week.
In the last week of May the four hospitals in Benton and Franklin counties reported 15 to 17 COVID-19 patients each day.
That jumped to 25 to 27 each day in June, but with no data available for Friday.
The percentage of people ages 16 and older fully vaccinated against COVID-19 ticked up a couple of percentage points as reported by DOH over the last week.
But Benton and Franklin county residents remain less likely to be vaccinated than people in the rest of Washington state.
Gov. Jay Inslee expects Washington state to fully reopen June 30, but it could be sooner if 70% of people ages 16 and older have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by then.
Teens ages 12-15 in Washington state also have been eligible to be vaccinated since May 12, but the governor did not include them in the early reopening goal he set since they have had limited time yet to get a shot.
Statewide 54% of people 16 and older were fully vaccinated, the state reported Friday based on data complete through May 31.
That dropped to 43% in Benton County and 36% in Franklin County.
A week ago the state was reporting 51% of people 16 and older were fully vaccinated statewide, with 41% in Benton County and 33% in Franklin County.
With the closure of the drive-thru COVID vaccination clinic at the Benton County Fairgrounds, more clinics are being planned across the two counties.
DOH is sending “Care-a-Van” vaccine clinics on wheels around the state, and the local health district has requested a van to help at the Pasco Flea Market at 3620 East Lewis Place.
On Sunday , the Columbia Basin Health Association will provide free vaccinations with the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine at the flea market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Anyone getting vaccinated at the flea market this Sunday will be entered into a drawing for $1,000.
The money comes from a local resident who is paying for the drawing in memory of area resident Anibal Gomez, who died from complications of COVID-19, according to the Tri-Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
In addition, the COVID-19 drive-thru testing site at Columbia Basin College, will expand from offering the COVID vaccine on Sundays to three days a week.
Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine will be available starting Friday, June 11, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at at 311 W. Argent Road, Pasco.
The local health district also will continue its contract with Columbia Safety to hold pop-up clinics in Pasco, Richland, Kennewick, West Richland and rural sites in both counties. Sunday, June 6, a pop-up clinic is planned 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Fiesta Foods in Pasco.