They're back. It's time to mask up again. After nearly 2 years of dealing with COVID-19 lockdowns and masking mandates the masking mandate is back on Monday.

HUNDREDS WHO ARE AGAINST A VACCINE MANDATE RALLIED ON SATURDAY

Along with the indoor mask mandate for everyone vaccinated or unvaccinated comes warnings about rising COVID-19 Delta variant cases in Yakima and throughout the region. On Saturday a rally was held at Yakima's Franklin Park for people who stand against vaccine mandates. More than 300 people attended the event. Organizer Amber Sutten says "hopefully the statewide reports of gatherings will compel our state legislators and governor to have an emergency session, so they can change the vaccine mandate."

YAKIMA HEALTH OFFICIALS SAY THE NUMBERS ARE SURGING

Yakima Health District officials say "Yakima County has seen an alarming increase in cases, hospitalizations,and deaths due to COVID-19. From June 1 to August 17 the case rate increased from 120 to 508 per 100,000 the hospitalization rate increased from 2.7 to 7.0 per 100,000 and 23 community members have died due to COVID-19. This fourth wave of COVID-19 in Yakima County has been the most startling yet, with the increase in activity showing no sign of slowing and the increase being much faster than previous waves. Much of this has to do with the fact that the most dominant strain of COVID-19, Delta, is more than two times as contagious as previous variants"

THE RATE OF INFECTION IN YAKIMA IS INCREASING

Today the rate of infection is 672 cases per 100,000 an increase from last week. “The positivity rate in Yakima County is now over 30% -the highest rate we have seen during the entire pandemic. This is extremely concerning,” -Dr. Tanny Davenport, Memorial’s Physician Executive for the Medical Group.

MASKING IS BACK FOR BOTH VACCINATED AND UNVACCINATED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

So it's back to masking and maybe more future lockdowns. The Department of Health is recommending everyone wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings, like concerts and fairs. With summer coming to an end, there are various events and festivities taking place.
A press release warns "if you plan to go to a large event, the Yakima Health District is urging extreme caution given the high risk of COVID-19 transmission in the community."
The Benton County Fair opens this week. Plans are still moving forward for the upcoming Central Washington State Fair set for September 24 through October 3.

LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.