Benton County experiences ‘modest rise’ in COVID-19 cases following lift of mask mandate


Jess Hume-Pantuso, Photo Editor

A file photo illustration depicting someone with a Bandaid reading “COVID-19” to depict the experience of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Benton County has been experiencing a ‘modest rise’ in COVID-19 cases since the lifting of the mask mandate across the state of Oregon.

Sam Misa, News Contributor

In the weeks following the lifting of masking mandates across the state, Benton County has seen increases in COVID-19 cases, though cases are down since the peak in early January.

According to the Benton County Health Department, the increase in cases hasn’t reached alarming levels yet.

“A modest rise in reported cases was expected due to the lifting of the mask requirement, and the weeks after a traveling holiday such as spring break often bring increases as well,” said Rocío Muñoz, health equity and communications interim manager of Benton County Health Department.

According to Muñoz, it is too early to tell if this uptick in COVID-19 cases is part of another, smaller wave, but the causes are likely from the lifting of masking mandates as well as the introduction of the BA.2 omicron subvariant of COVID-19 to Oregon. 

In Benton County, 84% of everyone eligible, 5 years or older, has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 75% of the population have received a complete round of vaccinations for the virus.

The increase in cases is a reminder that COVID-19 is still spreading, according to Muñoz, and the Benton County Health Department is urging people to both be vaccinated and up to date on boosters. 

“Now is a good time to consider additional precautions such as masking in public, or changing your plans to spend more time in outdoor spaces or those with good ventilation,” Muñoz said. 

For information on COVID-19 statistics in Benton county as well as to find information on vaccination eligibility, visit Benton County Health Department’s website.

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