YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) - Gov. Jay Inslee will issue a proclamation ordering Yakima County residents to wear masks while in public places in an effort to halt the spike of coronavirus cases there.
Inslee said Saturday the proclamation will come in the next several days and that it will be a legal requirement that businesses not sell products to customer who don't wear face coverings.
"Essentially this means, no masks no services. No masks, no goods," Inslee said. "We are going to be swamped with a tidal wave of COVID-19 if we do not act now."
Inslee added, "While I hear some voices saying that this is overblown, the facts are otherwise."
Officials at Virginia Mason Memorial hospital in Yakima, which holds more than 200 beds, said Saturday the facility has no available beds and that 22 patients, some with the coronavirus, have been sent to Seattle for care.
The total positive case count in Yakima County, as of Friday, was 6,270, The Seattle Times reported. The county has seen 118 deaths from the virus, according to the Yakima Health District.
Inslee said cases could double in the next two weeks unless dramatic actions were taken and said he's considering a similar order for other counties, but did not elaborate.
Nearby Benton and Franklin counties are also feeling the strain on their health care systems, but Yakima County remains Washington state's hot spot for the virus.
Inslee said 19% of the hospital beds in Yakima have COVID-19 patients in them while that percentage is about 2.5 elsewhere in the state.