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Spokane County Struggles With Covid Metrics To Stay At Phase 3

Screenshot from Spokane Regional Health District

Spokane County’s chances of staying in Phase 3 of Washington’s coronavirus reopening protocol beyond the first week of May are becoming more tenuous.

Interim Health Officer Francisco Velazquez says the county is failing one of the two metrics state officials consider when evaluating counties’ progress. That’s the two-week case rate. The county is at 295 cases per 100-thousand residents, well above the state’s acceptable standard of 200. In the other metric, hospitalizations, he says the county is teetering around the acceptable level of 5%.

“We’ve gone over 5% a couple of times. We were at 5.3% Tuesday. So we’ve fluctuated around that 5%, that magical number, for hospitalization. Our case rate is high. It’s going to be hard to bring it back below 200. We’re going to have to do some work on that. So it’s not clear if we’re going to be able to continue on Phase 3," he said.

Spokane County would need to fail both metrics to go back to Phase 2. Velazquez says he will not unilaterally make the decision to lower one phase.

“I am cautiously optimistic that we, as a community, are going to push it back, pull it back, and be able to bring our cases down," he said.

The health district on Wednesday reported 111 new cases of coronavirus. Seven of the last 10 days have seen triple digits, compared to several weeks of double digit days in February, March and early April.