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First COVID-19 case confirmed in Walla Walla County

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Health officials announced Saturday morning that the first Walla Walla County case of COVID-19 disease has been confirmed.

The county’s Department of Community Health released information stating that a Walla Walla County man in his 40s has contracted the virus and will be under home isolation for 14 days until he is fever-free for 72 hours.

Community Health is working to identify anyone who may have an increased risk from close contact with the patient.

The infection is not linked to foreign or domestic travel, officials said.

“We are surprised it has taken this long for a local case here in Walla Walla County,” said Community Health Director Meghan DeBolt. “We have been expecting this and are prepared. Regardless of where the case was exposed, everyone can and should be taking steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

The county had seen an increased number of tests throughout the last week, but many cases were still listed as pending, including 143 pending cases as of Friday afternoon. That number had not been updated by Saturday evening.

Thirty-five tests in the community have returned negative, as of Friday afternoon.

Meanwhile, one person in Columbia County who had been confirmed positive for COVID-19 is recovering and out of quarantine, officials said.

The Benton-Franklin Health District also updated their coronavirus information Saturday with a sharp incline in numbers.

Benton County now has seven confirmed cases, including two deaths. There is also another death with an epidemiological link, meaning the person was experiencing known symptoms and had been in close contact with another confirmed case.

Franklin County is reporting two confirmed cases with no deaths.

There have been 128 negative test results between Franklin and Benton counties.

Meanwhile, DeBolt continued to stress that community members should take “personal and social responsibility” according to the release from Community Health. This includes: social distancing, washing your hands properly, cleaning surfaces and protecting your overall health.

Jedidiah Maynes is the managing editor of Walla Walla Lifestyles magazine. He also covers local news for the Union-Bulletin and frequently writes about arts and entertainment in Marquee.

Vicki covers business and economic development, including tourism, the Port of Walla Walla and the Strictly Business column, as well as features. She has been reporting for the Union-Bulletin since late 2001.

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