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Yelm Mayor JW foster discusses the impact coronavirus-related closures have had on the community at large during an online business townhall last month. 

Yelm Mayor JW Foster said Thursday there are cases of COVID-19 in the Yelm area, but he’s also reassuring the public to stay calm and go about continuing social distancing measures as the spread of the virus is expected to potentially peak later this month.

“I want people to be concerned and I want people to be careful, but I don’t want them to panic,” Foster told the NVN.

Out of privacy to the two individuals he knows have been confirmed to have the virus, Foster said he would not disclose their identities or whereabouts.

At a Zoom teleconference meeting with the Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce earlier on Thursday, Foster said the slow growth Thurston County has had in confirming cases is a testament to the success of social distancing and the county’s sprawl.

“Yes, there are some cases that have been confirmed in the Yelm area and we do know that we have 20 or so confirmed cases at a hospital at Madigan,” Foster told a group of roughly 20 attendees. “So, the assumption has to be that the virus is alive and well and spreading to our community.”

Today, Thurston County Public Health reported — in addition to three other cases — its first case of a juvenile with coronavirus in the county. The tally of confirmed cases now stands at 55 with no deaths as of Thursday night.

Nearby Pierce County has seen a large spike in confirmed cases. On Thursday, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department confirmed 80 new cases. Since the outbreak started, the county has reported seven deaths.

At the meeting on Thursday, Foster also said there have been some silver linings to this pandemic — crime is down locally and nearby clinics, such as Seamar and Yelm Family Medicine, have recorded record-low visits.

As the number of cases worsens statewide, Foster said it’s also important to continue practicing social distancing measures. People’s caution should remain, but they shouldn’t fear, he said.

“Even though we’ve been getting a little frustrated and tired by this, we have to keep up the strength of our measures to continue to slow the spread,” he said.

Foster said the public should also be wary of what people have been claiming online about confirmed cases in the area, and should only trust sources confirmed by state and county health departments.

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