An NPR member station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Inslee Tours Spokane School; Urges People To Stay The Course With Covid Measures

Rebecca White/SPR

State leaders and public health officials are urging Washington residents to continue to take health precautions as a more infectious variant of COVID-19 is discovered in the state.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee delivered the message during a tour of Spokane's Stevens Elementary School on Tuesday.

The variant, known as B.1.351 was first detected in South Africa and was recently identified in King County. At the same time, virologists in Washington have found an additional 19 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant. It was first identified in the United Kingdom.
Inslee addressed the detection of the new variant while addressing reporters after his tour. He says he has confidence in the state’s monitoring systems to identify and address new strains. He noted the effectiveness of vaccines against the UK variant, but urged the state to stay cautious.
“We’re extremely happy that the numbers are coming down dramatically. The hospitalizations are coming down dramatically, the vaccines coming on like gangbusters, while simultaneously realizing there is still risk because of these variants," Inslee said. "That’s why these masks are still extremely important, social distancing is extremely important, not having too many people in your home is extremely important. We’ve got to do both those things at the same time."
There has been a total of 39 variant cases detected in the state. Contact tracers were not able to identify a travel history or other information about the person who most recently tested positive for the B.1.351 variant.


Rebecca White is a 2018 graduate of Edward R Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. She's been a reporter at Spokane Public Radio since February 2021. She got her start interning at her hometown paper The Dayton Chronicle and previously covered county government at The Spokesman-Review.