coronavirus

Spokane Health Board Asks Health Officer Lutz To Resign

45 minutes ago
Spokane Regional Health District

The Spokane Regional Health District's administrative officer has reportedly asked Health Officer Bob Lutz to resign.

A press release from the health district says the health board met in executive session on Thursday to discuss Lutz's status with the district. The release says the board asked Lutz to resign, effective today, but multiple media outlets are reporting that it was, in fact, Administrative Officer Amelia Clark that made the request.

The district has scheduled an 11 am virtual news conference to discuss the issue.

More to come

Kootenai Health

Spokane and north Idaho have moved into new territory when it comes to the number of people hospitalized for the coronavirus.

Call it a triple dose of triple digits.

Courtesy of MultiCare

The latest coronavirus surge in Spokane and north Idaho continues at or near the intensity seen during the region’s mid-summer Covid peak.

Health officials worry that, unless the momentum is reversed, the health system in the Inland Northwest could be overwhelmed. At the moment, they say, Spokane is managing.

TVW screenshot

Governor Jay Inslee says his state will join other western states to review Covid vaccines, when they become available. Also during a press conference on Tuesday, the governor urged Idahoans to wear their masks when around others.

Idaho Public TV screenshot

The surge in the number of coronavirus cases in Idaho has doctors speaking up about the strain they and their colleagues are experiencing.

At the governor’s news conference on Monday, Dr. Andy Wilper brought some ominous news from his hospital, the Boise V-A.

Idaho Drops Back To Covid Phase Three

Oct 26, 2020
Idaho Public TV screenshot

Idaho’s governor has announced the Gem State is taking a step back to phase three of its coronavirus protocol.

State Epidemiologist Christine Hahn says the main factor is the surge in the number of hospital cases.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

As in many other states, early voter turnout in Washington is very high.

“We have some counties in the state that have already had half of their ballots returned and, statewide, we’re already at a 33% return rate," said Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman on Monday. She told reporters that county elections officials are happy to see so many ballots in early.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR


The coldest temperatures of the fall are coming this weekend.

Spokane officials say they’re working with the city’s shelters to make extra space available.

Panhandle Health District YouTube

The Idaho Panhandle health board has voted to rescind its rule requiring people wear masks in Kootenai County.

The board had approved an enforceable mask mandate on July 23. It was a time when the Panhandle was approaching the peak of a coronavirus surge. That move was unpopular, so unpopular that even though the Panhandle is enduring another surge, the health board voted to remove the mandate.

"Live Local" Aims To Build Support For Spokane Businesses

Oct 20, 2020
Courtesy of Mariah McKay

The Covid pandemic has been a kick in the pocketbook for many small businesses in the Inland Northwest. Most have adjusted the best they can, but some have had to close their doors.

The Spokane Independent Metro Business Alliance – SIMBA -- is doing what it can to help local businesses stay viable.

McMorris Rodgers, Wilson Held Final Debate Today

Oct 19, 2020
KSPS Public Television

Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers and her challenger Dave Wilson finished their election debate season Monday with a forum at KSPS Public Television.

Among the issues they discussed was health care and the possibility that the Supreme Court could rule the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional.

The candidates were asked what they would include as part of a new health care proposal.

WA Lands Commissioner Reviews Unusual Fire Season

Oct 19, 2020
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The wildfire season in Washington is winding down. Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz says the Department of Natural Resources is sending some of its seasonal firefighters home for the winter.

She stopped in Spokane on Monday to look back on what has been an unusual season.

Contact Tracers Stressed During Spokane Covid Surge

Oct 15, 2020
Spokane COVID Response

Another triple digit day for new Spokane Covid cases.

The health district today [Thursday] reported 133 new positive tests. It’s the second consecutive day of triple digit cases and a tie for the fourth-highest number of cases in a single day.

Health Officer Bob Lutz says the surge, now about four weeks into it, is putting a lot of pressure on the health district’s contract tracing teams.

Spokane's CHAS Health Expands Rapid Covid Testing

Oct 14, 2020
CHAS Health

Spokane’s CHAS Health is expanding its rules that govern to whom it will provide rapid Covid testing.

Jason Campbell from CHAS says the organization has been testing certain people with Covid symptoms. They include health care workers, first responders and people who live in congregate care facilities. Now, he says it will provide rapid tests for students and faculty in the K-12 school system who show Covid symptoms.

Spokane COVID Response

Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz says he may reimpose new restrictions due to increases in the county’s number of daily cases.

Today [Wednesday], the health district reported 122 new cases. It’s the seventh day in the last three weeks in which new case numbers hit triple digits. During that time, the case levels have been similar to days in July and August, the peak of the county’s pandemic era.

 

Kaiser Family Foundation

Native people are among the least likely to be tested for the coronavirus. There are several reasons for that, including lack of access to health care.

A team led by a Washington State University medical professor has won a federal grant to reach out to Native American communities and try to increase testing.

State of Idaho

Idaho Governor Brad Little says, despite the pandemic, his state’s economy is strong and outpacing nearly every state economy in the nation.

Little called reporters together Friday to crow about a variety of economic indicators. He says Idaho has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation. Its economists recently issued a strong state revenue report. And, he says, Idaho is on track to have a $530 million surplus during the next legislative session.

Spokane Regional Health District

Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz is letting people know the county may be close to reimposing Covid restrictions.

On Thursday, the health district reported 138 new positive tests, the third-highest mark since the outbreak began. Today [Friday], the district reported 94 cases.

Lutz released a statement Friday that he termed a ‘Come to Jesus’ message.

Central Valley School District

Central Valley School District sent half of its kindergarten students back to the classroom on Monday. The other will go back today [Tuesday]. Spokane’s kindergartners will make their in-person debut on Wednesday.

Courtesy of Mead School District

The health agencies in Washington and Idaho have made public their Covid-related statistics for several months. Now, some of the school districts and universities in the region are posting their own Covid dashboards.

Spokane Covid Notes: Labor Day Lull And Schools

Sep 29, 2020
Spokane COVID Response

More travels on the Covid roller coaster.

Spokane County reported 61 new Covid cases on Tuesday. It’s the fourth consecutive day in the 60-to-70 range after three straight days with 100 or more.

Hospitalization numbers continue to inch up.

Recent Spokane Covid Increase Driven By Young People

Sep 28, 2020
Spokane COVID Response

After three days of triple digit new Covid cases in Spokane, the weekend and Monday brought better news. The health district reported 192 cases, an average of 64 a day, from Saturday through Monday.

Health Officer Bob Lutz says younger people who test positive are helping to drive recent increases in the count.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Several Spokane area school districts have either welcomed or are preparing to welcome some students back to their classrooms. Different districts are moving at different speeds.

Some districts will want to move more quickly than others in adding first and then second graders. Health Officer Bob Lutz is urging them to be flexible in their schedules for doing that.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

For years, the biggest issues in rural America have revolved around natural resources and access to wild areas. But Covid is bringing attention to another issue.

“When I first got here, I felt like I was the wallflower at the dance. Now I really feel like broadband is the prom king. It is the conversation piece now that everybody is looking to and trying to figure out," said Russ Elliott, the director of the Washington State Broadband Office.

Dean Hare/WSU Photo Services

College football fans in the Northwest can rejoice. Some of their teams will apparently grace the gridiron later this fall.

The Pacific-12 athletic conference, which includes Washington State and Washington, has announced that its teams will play football this fall, after all. The season had been cancelled because of the risks of players spreading Covid to other players.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane’s two largest school districts have begun preparations to bring kindergarten students back to school the week after next.

The districts acted quickly after Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz announced he supports the immediate, but slow reopening of schools for children in kindergarten through second grade. He talked about that with reporters today [Thursday].

Spokane Public Schools screenshot

Adminstrators at Spokane County's two largest school districts have announced plans to send kindergarten students back to school the week after next. This follows an announcement early Wednesday afternoon that Health Officer Bob Lutz approved of districts slowly phasing in in-person instruction for kindergarten-through-second grade.

Spokane's Post-Labor Day Covid Spike Hits Another High

Sep 23, 2020
Spokane COVID Response

 

Spokane County’s daily coronavirus case number was back in the triple digits on Wednesday. That’s the first time it’s crossed the hundred mark since August 8.

It means the post-Labor Day Covid spike continues to grow in magnitude. And it comes just as the flu season approaches.

Student Nurses Help With Community Vaccination Efforts

Sep 23, 2020
Connie Young/WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Services

Spokane area health care providers are in vaccine mode as we head into cold and flu season.

MultiCare on Tuesday announced a series of eight flu vaccine clinics over the next two months. The Spokane Regional Health District held a curbside vaccination clinic for both children and adults Tuesday at Rogers High School. Another one is scheduled for next Tuesday at Mead High School.

At some of those clinics, nurses will be joined by students from the Washington State and Gonzaga nursing schools and the WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

More Than 200 New Covid Cases In Spokane Over The Weekend

Sep 21, 2020
Spokane COVID Response

Spokane County’s Labor Day-related Covid spike continued over the weekend.

Health Officer Bob Lutz reported 228 new cases in the three-day Saturday-to-Monday period.

“This is definitely that spike that we, unfortunately, were concerned about. We hope that, we certainly believe, that our counts will go down as we are able to aggressively address these current cases," Lutz said.

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