Yakima Health District News Release: Operation Unmasked Part II: 65% of Yakima County Residents Wearing Masks in Public

On June 3rd, a health directive was issued by Dr. Teresa Everson, Health Officer at the Yakima Health District, to wear face coverings to reduce the spread of illness. The health directive was issued, in part, based on a survey conducted May 23 & 24 that observed only 35% of residents were wearing face coverings in public.

In the past 20 days, Yakima County has come together as a community to support the directive, and the safety of the community, to raise the percentage of the population wearing a mask when in public to 65%. Your choice to “Mask Up to Open Up” increased the amount of public mask usage by 85% since the Memorial Day Weekend. We appreciate all of our partners who came together to encourage everyone to “Mask up to Open up” as well as all of our partners who helped to distribute over 300,000 masks throughout Yakima County, this is a resounding achievement from the community.

A follow up survey for Operation Unmasked was conducted in Yakima County, in partnership with Signal Health, over the past weekend of June 20 -21. Over 3,500 observations at 50 retail sites around the County showed a significant improvement of mask use from the previous survey. Men were seen wearing masks 58% of the time and 71% of women were observed with masks on.

Many people who have COVID-19 may not feel “sick” in the early days of contagiousness. Masking is a proven mechanism to slow the spread of COVID-19 by ensuring that those who may not realize they’re sick have a barrier over their nose and mouth. It is important to ensure the mask is able to sufficiently cover both the nose and mouth because this is how the mask prevents droplets from spreading to others while in public. If you start to feel sick, for any reason, —especially with a fever and cough— it is important to stay at home and get tested for COVID-19 within 24 hours. For testing locations call 2-1-1 or visit www.yakimahealthdistrict.org