Washington State's Okanogan County sees largest increase in coronavirus cases

Cases south of border jump

While coronavirus case counts have stayed low in the B.C. Interior over the past several weeks, just across the southern border, Washington State's Okanogan County saw its largest increase in cases ever this week.

Okanogan County Public Health said Tuesday 22 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed between June 26 and 30.

“This is the largest increase in cases that we have ever had in Okanogan County,” said the public health department. “As COVID-19 disease activity is increasing in our county it is more important than ever to protect one another by wearing a mask in public places, physical distancing, and staying home if you have COVID-19 or have been around someone with COVID-19.”

The largest increase in the county came in Brewster, Wash. about a 90 minute drive from Osoyoos, where 16 cases were confirmed in four days. 

Okanogan County has a population of just 42,000, but has seen 115 confirmed cases and two deaths. That is compared to the Interior Health region of B.C., population 763,000, that has had 202 confirmed cases and two deaths.

The pace of testing per capita, however, is higher south of the border. While the Interior Health region has tested 3.5 per cent of the population, Okanogan County has tested 6.4 per cent. 

Health officials in B.C. have voiced deep concern about the spread of the virus in Washington State and have continuously lobbied the federal government to keep the U.S./Canada border closed to non-essential travel.

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