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Spokane's New Health Officer On The Job; His Message? Mask Up

Courtesy of Spokane Regional Health District

Hear Doug Nadvornick's interview with Dr. Francisco Velazquez, Spokane County's new interim health officer.

Spokane County registered another 216 new Covid infections on Thursday, the second-highest mark of the pandemic.

With that as the backdrop, new interim Spokane County Health Officer Francisco Velazquez is encouraging people to take the same measures that his predecessor did: wear masks when around others and keep your physical distance when possible.

Velazquez is in his first week as the medical head of the Spokane Regional Health District.

“I have, basically, three tasks," he said. "One is make sure that I provide support and guidance to the employees here because these are really hard-working people, but have a really tough job. Number two, that we continue to deliver all the programs and services that the community deserves and expects and should expect from us. Number three, that we continue pushing forward on the pandemic so we can deliver the best guidance for the community that we can.”

Velazquez says he’s impressed by the work the agency has done to combat the pandemic, from contact tracing to testing. But he says corralling the virus will come down to individual behavior.

“I don’t like wearing face masks. I have a mustache and it’s really itchy. But, if that’s the best thing I can do to protect my family, to protect myself, to protect my friends, my colleagues, it’s a minor inconvenience and I will do it. So I think, as a community, we probably need to start focusing on that," he said.

Velazquez is the former CEO of PAML, Pathology Associates Medical Laboratories, in Spokane. Since leaving the company, he says he's been volunteering for a variety of organizations in Spokane.