coronavirus

Rebecca White/SPR

As school districts navigate their second year of pandemic-era instruction, school boards of directors are facing escalating hostility.

The increased attention has ranged from more participation at school board meetings, to harassment, to threats and intimidation.

Education leaders are calling for patience and civility.

Debbie Long has served on the Central Valley School Board since 2003. She says in 18 years, she’s presided over contentious issues, but none as divisive as masks and coronavirus vaccinations.

Screenshot from Spokane Regional Health District

Our life, post-Covid pandemic, may include vaccinations and masks. It may also become as routine as living with the flu.

Courtesy of State of Idaho

Idaho state health officials say they’re cautiously optimistic that the state’s latest Covid surge has hit its peak.

Courtesy of Newport Hospital

About 88% of Washington’s hospital staff are vaccinated against Covid-19, according to a survey released Monday by the Washington State Hospital Association.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Manufacturing firms in the Northwest are experiencing the same issues with labor shortages as companies in other U.S. industry sectors.

That requires them to be creative as they recruit and screen prospective employees during a period of labor shortage.

Courtesy of Cathy McMorris Rodgers' office

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers has tested positive for the coronavirus.

In a statement released Friday, McMorris Rodgers said she has been vaccinated and had only mild symptoms. She is quarantiningat home. She said both her Eastern Washington offices, and Washington D.C. office will remain open. 

"As I have said for months, I encourage everyone in Eastern Washington to talk to your doctor about getting the vaccine if you haven’t already,” McMorris Rodgers said.

Spokane Public Radio has reached out to her office for further comment.

Courtesy of MultiCare

MultiCare is looking for people in eastern Washington to participate in new Covid-vaccine-related research.

The health provider is part of a study by the pharmaceutical company Glaxo Smith Kline that explores what happens when you give Covid shots at the same time as, say, a flu shot.

Rebecca White/SPR

Nurses in hospital systems across the country are facing the most stressful time in their careers after treating COVID-19 patients for more than a year. Many are leaving the field, and those who plan to stay are urging people to take basic health precautions.

Spokane Public Radio spoke to several healthcare workers, including two on the front lines in Spokane.

Courtesy of MultiCare

Hospitals in Washington are trying to gauge how much of their workforce will comply with the state mandate for Covid vaccinations as the October 18 deadline approaches.

Courtesy of the Federal Food and Drug Administration

Washington State employees and contractors will soon be at a crossroad: get the coronavirus vaccine or lose their jobs.

That mandate was issued by Governor Jay Inslee during a surge in hospitalizations fueled by the Delta variant, and a slowdown in vaccinations.

Monday, Oct. 4 was the last day to get the vaccine in time to meet the governor’s Oct. 18 deadline, if a worker gets the Johnson and Johnson’s single-dose shot.

Courtesy of Inciweb

Washington’s Covid vaccine mandate for state employees goes into effect two weeks from today. Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz says her agency is still unsure how much of its workforce will choose to leave rather than get shots.

Coeur d'Alene School District screenshot

The organizations representing Washington school boards and superintendents are tired of rancorous public meetings about mask mandates.

TVW

Visiting a Spokane hospital today, Washington Governor Jay Inslee said he was committed to enforcing a mandate that requires state workers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The mandate has generated a flood of exemption requests, has drawn protest and is being challenged in court. It’s also led to concerns that some state employees and healthcare workers will walk instead of getting a shot. Inslee said he believes when most people get down to the wire, they will choose the vaccine.

Spokane Regional Health District

Hospitals in Spokane County are delaying all but emergency care due to the massive influx of COVID-19 patients.

Delays in surgeries and a lack of preventative care during the pandemic could impact the community’s long-term health.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Another casualty of the Covid pandemic: regional in-person art shows. Many have been cancelled during the last 18 months.

Last September’s Little Spokane River Artist Studio Tour was moved online. But this year, the committee that sponsors the tour was determined to hold it in person.

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare

Idaho school districts have resumed in-person instruction, but many are struggling to stay open to due the rampant spread of the Delta variant and labor shortages.

In a briefing to the Idaho Board of Education, Andy Grover, the executive director of the Idaho School Administrators Association, said eight school staff members have died of COVID-19 this year. He said many workers have also left for hiring bonuses and higher wages in fast food.

Pediatrics Cases Concern Kootenai Health Officials

Sep 23, 2021
Courtesy of Kootenai Health

[This story first aired on the radio on September 10.]

Kootenai Health in Coeur d'Alene is seeing so many patients with Covid that providers are rationing care. The pediatrics department there is projecting that the high number of serious Covid cases will soon have an effect on children who need care.

Courtesy of the University of Washington

Many of the college students in the Northwest have already returned for the new academic year. Eastern Washington University began on Wednesday. The University of Washington starts a week from Thursday.

At the UW, faculty members such Paula Nurius in the Department of Social Work are interested to see how in-person instruction during a pandemic is going to work. She'll report on her research Thursday evening during a webinar open to the public.

Courtesy of Community Colleges of Spokane

The state of Washington plans to open two community Covid testing sites in Spokane, but not immediately.
 
Spokane Interim Health Officer Francisco Velazquez says a private company called Discovery Health, based in the Puget Sound area, will operate them. The new drive-through venues will be located at Spokane and Spokane Falls Community Colleges.

Avista Utilities

Fall is normally when utility assistance providers see a wave of requests for help paying winter heat bills.

This year, they expect an even larger barrage starting when Governor Jay Inslee’s moratorium on utility shutoffs expires next week.

Spokane Neighborhood Action Partners Director of Community Action, Carol Weltz, said the non-profit has enough federal aid relief to handle every anticipated request, but said staff can only process so many at a time.

Covid Surge May Have Peaked; Watch Out For Flu Season

Sep 20, 2021
Courtesy of CDC

Health care officials say the Covid surge in Washington may have hit its peak statewide, a few weeks before the flu season will officially begin. 

Dr. Steve Mitchell from the Washington Medical Coordination Center in Seattle says about 1,500 Covid-positive people are receiving hospital care today [Monday]. That’s down 200 since a peak reported September 9.

Courtesy of State of Idaho

  

Four of Idaho’s top elected officials have sent a letter to President Biden, outlining their concerns about his federal vaccine mandate.

Kootenai Health

The entire state of Idaho is now in a crisis standard of care due to a massive increase in COVID-19 cases.

The declaration came after a request from St. Luke’s Healthcare System in Boise. The hospital had surpassed its capacity and delayed most non-life-threatening procedures – including some cancer treatments, says Dr. Jim Souza, the chief physician at St. Luke’s.


Center for American Progress

As families try to return to the workplace- many are struggling to find childcare – due to the number of providers that closed during the pandemic, and staffing shortages at the centers that are still open.

Several Spokane area providers, businesses and state agencies have put together a list of policies, and potential funding sources they hope could put the industry on solid ground.

Providence Delays All Non-Emergency Procedures

Sep 15, 2021
Courtesy of Providence Health Care

Providence Health Care says it is delaying all non-emergency surgeries and procedures at its two Spokane hospitals because of the Covid patient crush and resulting staff shortages.

The decision affects care at Sacred Heart and Holy Family hospitals.

Screenshot from FDA website

Hospital officials in Washington say Covid patients and their families are asking doctors to prescribe the deworming drug ivermectin as part of their treatment regimens. The drug isn’t recommended by federal or state health authorities for Covid, but patients are asking that it be administered anyway.

Vaccine Deadline Nears For WA State Employees

Sep 13, 2021
Courtesy of Cascade Medical Center

Most Washington state employees face a deadline next month to receive the Covid vaccination they’ll need to keep their jobs. But Monday was an important day for some to stay on track in their quest to reach that goal.

TVW screenshot

A new Washington mask mandate goes into effect today. It applies to crowds of more than 500 people in outdoor settings, even for people who have been vaccinated.

“For anyone wondering why we are doing this, I guess it should be pretty obvious. It’s because we’re seeing evidence of transmission, unfortunately, in outdoor settings. The Watershed Festival at the Gorge led to more than 200 infections from that one event and it was outdoors," said Governor Jay Inslee last week.

Idaho Public TV screenshot

Idaho’s governor is no fan of President Biden’s order that many federal employees and contractors be vaccinated for the coronavirus. 

Brad Little is looking into suing the government.

Panhandle Health District Names New Director

Sep 10, 2021
Courtesy of Panhandle Health District

Idaho’s Panhandle Health District has looked to its own ranks for a new leader.

Don Duffy was introduced Friday as the agency’s new director.

Pages