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COVID numbers up in Spokane, but short of 2023 highs

Screenshot of Spokane Regional Health District website

The number of new COVID cases in Spokane County has risen in the last few weeks.

It’s a minor wave compared to the peaks of the pandemic, but the positive test case numbers are approaching some of the highs of 2023.

The weekly figures were in the 200-to-300 range in the first few months of the year, falling consistently into double digits from May through mid-July. Now they’re back up; 236 cases during the last week of July and 178 last week, says Spokane County Health Officer Dr. Francisco Velazquez.

“If you look at our wastewater surveillance, which is something we’ve been doing for quite some time, you will see that there’s a slight increase in the presence of the virus. So we do expect that we may see some more cases like they’ve seen in other parts of the country and hopefully it will continue to be a milder clinical presentation," he said.

Velazquez says the numbers are bolstered by outbreaks at five long-term care facilities, including residents, staff and employees. Despite the outbreaks, he says the number of people hospitalized remains relatively low.

"Even this new sublimage that we call EG5 is not resulting in much more severe disease than we have seen before. In Spokane, we still have some of the other members of the family, XBB.1.16 and .1.92, are still the most common," he said.

Health officials urge people to think about getting the most recent COVID vaccine. They expect one that includes protection from the most recent variants to be available to the public this fall. They also consider you consider getting the flu shot when it becomes available this fall.

The Centers for Disease Control also recommend adults 60 and older get a dose of the new vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.

Doug Nadvornick has spent most of his 30+-year radio career at Spokane Public Radio and filled a variety of positions. He is currently the program director and news director. Through the years, he has also been the local Morning Edition and All Things Considered host (not at the same time). He served as the Inland Northwest correspondent for the Northwest News Network, based in Coeur d’Alene. He created the original program grid for KSFC. He has also served for several years as a board member for Public Media Journalists Association. During his years away from SPR, he worked at The Pacific Northwest Inlander, Washington State University in Spokane and KXLY Radio.