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Gov. Jay Inslee calls Yakima Valley 'epicenter' of state's current COVID-19 outbreak

Yakima County has 250,000 residents but has recorded more than 5,700 cases of COVID-19, the second-highest total in the state after the much larger King County.

Residents of coronavirus-ravaged Yakima County must do more to prevent the spread of the pandemic, Gov. Jay Inslee said during a press briefing on Tuesday.

"Right now the valley is, unfortunately, the epicenter of this earthquake of this virus,” said Gov. Inslee.

Yakima County has 250,000 residents but has recorded more than 5,700 cases of COVID-19, the second-highest total in the state after the much larger King County.

"The hospitalization rate in Yakima Valley per capita is 8 times higher than it is in King County," he said. "The infection rate of the number of people infected per 100,000 is 28 times higher than it is in King County in the last few days."

Gov. Inslee called the virus a sort of “earthquake″ that was devastating the Yakima economy.

A big reason why the valley has so many cases is that too many people are refusing the wear masks. Inslee cited a recent finding that only about 35% of Yakima County residents would wear masks when patronizing a business.

WATCH: Gov. Inslee gives coronavirus update in Yakima