coronavirus

Rebecca White/SPR

Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced Friday that counties now must fail in two metrics to be moved back a phase in their reopening – and some counties may have if the guidance had stayed the same.

Previously, a county could be forced to regress to more restrictions if they had more than 200 cases per 100,000 people. Now they also must have more than five hospitalizations per 100,000 people for the state to regress a county to a more restrictive phase.

Rebecca White/SPR

Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced Friday that counties now must fail in two metrics to be moved back a phase in their reopening. The governor says the state won't act unless counties have both a high hospitalization and case rate.

Previously, a county could be forced to regress to more restrictions if they had more than 200 cases per 100,000 people. Now they also must have more than five hospitalizations per 100,000 cases for the state to regress a county to a more restrictive phase.

Courtesy of State of Idaho

The Idaho Senate has voted to put limits on the governor’s powers during declared emergencies, such as the pandemic.

Legislative leaders came to Boise this session unhappy that the governor has kept Idaho in a state of emergency since the start of the pandemic.

Spokane COVID Response

Spokane County topped the 100 mark in new Covid cases for the second consecutive day. The timing isn't good, given that Washington state health authorities will soon decide whether counties will continue in Phase 3 of the state's reopening protocols or slip back to Phase 2.

Rebecca White/SPR

Health officials are concerned about rising COVID-19 cases, especially in younger people, that could put the county of compliance with the governor’s re-opening metrics.

To stay in Phase 3 of the governor’s re-opening plan, Spokane County must have less than 200 cases per 100,000 people. As of Wednesday, the county had 183 cases per 100,000. Spokane County Interim Health Officer Dr. Francisco Velázquez said that was concerning.

Idaho's Governor Says No Vaccine Passports In His State

Apr 7, 2021
Idaho Public TV screenshot

Idaho Governor Brad Little is not a fan of the concept of a vaccine passport.

“Vaccine passports restrict the free flow of commerce during a time when life and the economy are returning to normal. Vaccine passports violate individuals’ freedom to choose the vaccine," Little said.

Courtesy of CHAS Health

CHAS Health is opening up a new mass vaccination clinic for anyone eligible to get a vaccine Wednesday at the Spokane Community College Campus.

Vaccinations are only available to those who qualify under the current state guidelines, which is people over the age of 60, people over 16 with some medical conditions. People who work in some fields such as agriculture or healthcare are also eligible now. Starting April 15, anyone over 16 will be able to get a vaccine there.

Gonzaga Men's Basketball Team Returns To Spokane

Apr 6, 2021
Courtesy of NCAA

The Gonzaga men’s basketball team returned to campus Tuesday afternoon, one day after losing the national championship game to Baylor.

In non-Covid years the players and coaches might have returned to a boisterous welcome. This year, though, the response was muted as the university restricted public access to avoid the potential spread of the virus.

Courtesy of Veterans' Administration

The Veterans’ Administration in Spokane is expanding its Covid vaccination efforts to veterans, their caregivers and family members.

The expansion is authorized by the Saves Lives Act approved recently by Congress.

Flickr Creative Commons

When Washington opens Covid vaccinations to anyone older than 16 on April 15, some believe that will lead to a rush of new people that will overwhelm the state’s Covid vaccine application system. The Department of Health's Michele Roberts isn’t so sure.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee says the state will soon make Covid vaccine available to anyone older than 16, effective April 15.

Inslee made his announcement this afternoon [Wednesday].

Flickr Creative Commons

The Covid vaccine will soon be available to anyone 16 and older in Washington and Idaho. But what happens if a 16- or 17-year-old wants to be inoculated, yet his or her parents say no?

Courtesy of CHAS Health

A small percentage of people who’ve been vaccinated in Washington and Idaho have become infected with COVID-19. Health officials say that’s not a sign the vaccine doesn’t work, or that people should cast aside public health guidelines.

Screenshot from Murray Roundtable

Spokane County officials say they allocated about $23 million in CARES Act money last fall to help small companies stay afloat during the pandemic. On Tuesday they reported that money went to more than 1,100 small businesses and nearly 200 non-profits.

The next batch of relief money for small businesses is on the way, says Sen. Patty Murray [D-Washington].

Courtesy of State of Idaho

Washington and Idaho health officials say each state has recorded about 100 cases of people who contracted Covid after receiving a vaccine. Those are called “breakthrough” cases.

In Washington, the number is 102. In Idaho, it’s 97.

Will K-12 Spring Breaks Lead To Covid Spike? Probably Not

Mar 29, 2021
Screenshot from WA State Hospital Association briefing

Most Inland Northwest school districts are off for spring break either this week or next.

We’ve heard the news about how Covid has spread in areas where students are congregating while on break, especially in Florida. Or in Pullman, where Whitman County health authorities reported 73 new cases last weekend and 185 during the last 14 days.

But health experts, such as Dr. Dan Getz, aren’t as worried about a Covid spike with K-12 students out of class.

TVW screenshot

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says the state is adopting new school distancing recommendations from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“That guidance will allow schools to return with less space to have to be reserved in the classroom, approximately three feet instead of six," he said.

Rebecca White/SPR

             

The Spokane Regional Board of Health is now looking for a permanent new health officer.

During its regular meeting on Thursday the board voted to spend up to $50,000 on a recruitment firm to find qualified candidates.

Courtesy of the TSA

As travel picks up for spring break, the Transportation Security Administration, TSA, has added new technology at Spokane International Airport to reduce contact between agents and travelers.

TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers said the new technology would make going through security more efficient, and reduce risk for both parties.

“There’s no contact between traveler and TSA officer, and we know that fewer touchpoints is safer and healthier for the traveler, and safer and healthier for our employees,” she said.

Global SuperTanker Services

Washington Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz says the state learned a valuable lesson last Labor Day weekend. She says it can’t rely on other states for airborne help when wildfires break out. She’s making the case for a bigger state investment.

Screenshot from Idaho Public Television

Idaho Governor Brad Little says the Gem State will soon drop most of the restrictions related to the Covid vaccine.

“I am glad to announce today that starting Monday, April 5, all Idahoans, regardless of their age, medical condition or occupation will be able to make an appointment to receive the Covid-19 vaccine. Also, starting Monday, March 29, any Idahoan with at least one medical condition will be able to access the Covid-19 vaccine," the governor said.

Shef Screenshot

A Washington Senate committee is considering a bill that would encourage the development of small home-based food businesses.

The legislation is a response to people who are trying to make a living during the pandemic, who may have lost their jobs and have begun making food they sell to people in their communities.

Rebecca White/SPR

Many living in long-term care facilities have spent the last year in isolation. But as more and more people are vaccinated, families can reconnect and see their loved ones in person.

After a year of missed holidays and milestones, Nannette Mogensen is celebrating her 84th birthday with her family.

Mogensen is now fully vaccinated and lives in Touchmark, a senior living facility on Spokane’s South Hill.  On Sunday, her three children and two of her granddaughters surprised her.

“Happy Birthday, mother, I love you,” says Shelly Christensen, Mogensen’s daughter.  

Courtesy of Grant County Health District

Many older people in Washington have now been vaccinated for Covid and attention has turned to other groups. Now that agricultural employees, both food processors and field workers, are eligible for shots, one central Washington health district expects to be especially busy over the next few weeks.

Screenshot from Idaho Public Television

Six Idaho legislators have tested positive for the coronavirus and, as a result, the legislature is taking a two-week break. House Speaker Scott Bedke broke the news today.

“I’m not all that surprised," he said. "We knew it was a possibility and we planned for it as best we could. It would have been nice if we could have finished completely, but we didn’t. We will come back and finish the job.”

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward urged the community to stay resilient, and continue to support its local businesses, during a virtual State of the city address Wednesday.

Rebecca White/SPR

On Wednesday many high-risk workers, people who have medical conditions or are pregnant became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

In a Spokane Regional Health District briefing Wednesday, Dr. Mark Schemmel, an obstetrics and gynecology specialist, urged everyone eligible, especially those who are pregnant, to contact a doctor and get a vaccine. 

Rebecca White/SPR

A little more than $217 million in federal stimulus will soon be available in the Spokane region, which local leaders say is a gamechanger for economic recovery.

Spokane City Council President Breean Beggs said the city, which is slated to receive about $84 million, could potentially use the funds to make long-term investments to move the entire economy forward.

“This is a historic amount of money,” Beggs said.  

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

An Idaho House committee has approved a bill that prohibits the state or any local government agency from imposing a mask mandate to deal with an infectious disease.

The legislation says entities such as health districts may recommend wearing masks, but not require it.

The bill had broad support during a Monday hearing in Boise. 

Next Covid Vaccine Phase in WA Opens On Wednesday

Mar 15, 2021
Courtesy of Washington Department of Health

Washington will open Covid vaccinations to a new group of people on Wednesday.

The new phase will add high-risk workers in certain settings where there are large numbers of people: grocery stores, food processing and correctional facilities, fishing vessels and buses. It will also apply to people 16 and older who are pregnant or who have a disability that puts them at high risk for severe disease if they contract the virus.

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