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As Washington delays reopening, Clark County sees rise in COVID-19

Clark County officials applaud the pause, and businesses following the rules, but are frustrated by people gathering in large groups and forgoing face coverings.

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Clark County Health Officer Dr. Alan Melnick said he doesn't like what he's seeing right now when it comes to containing COVID-19.

“On a variety of measures, we're going in the wrong direction,” Melnick said.

There are several key indicators prompting the stall on getting back to business.

Clark County reported a record daily high 47 new cases on Tuesday. The number of people infected has climbed from less than 20 per 100,000 a few weeks ago to 78 per 100,000 by Wednesday. And although there is currently enough space, the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has climbed from 10 at the beginning of the month to 29 by Wednesday. 

Dr. Melnick said he supports the governor's reopening delay.

“I think it's a good move and I think it sends a message when you're putting a moratorium on this. It sends a message that we need to take this seriously.”

RELATED: Washington state extends freeze on phases of reopening until at least July 28

On the business side of things, Carols' Corner Cafe has been in Clark County for 26 years, and is very popular for breakfast and lunch. The place is used to being packed. 

But right now, normal means dining inside is only up to 50% full. And everybody must wear a mask. Manager Shannon Holliday said to-go orders are popular and are helping carry them though the COVID-19 crisis, along with the hope this eventually gets better.

“So that's what we are banking on that just makes it a little easier. But it is what it is,” said Holliday, who added that the pandemic has made it hard to keep the faith. "We just keep trucking along and are following the rules. You can hope and hope and hope, but every time you try and hope somebody dashes you back down."

And while most restaurants and other businesses are following the rules, Dr. Melnick said too many people are having large gatherings, and not wearing masks. That's not following the rules or the science.

“When you take a communicable disease and turn it into a political issue, that's a recipe for disaster because you stop paying attention to the science and what we know about disease control, and now that it's been politicized this could end up being a disaster for losing more lives,” said Melnick.

The statewide moratorium on reopening is currently in place through July 28.

RELATED: First COVID-19 deaths reported in Cowlitz County

RELATED: Oregon’s COVID-19 struggles: Concerns over testing capacity and week-long waits for results