coronavirus

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The Spokane County Board of Health has set a Thursday, 3 pm meeting to discuss the status of Health Officer Bob Lutz.

The meeting agenda includes several items, including opportunities for Administrative Officer Amelia Clark and Lutz to make presentations (half-hour each). It also lists three "potential action items," including the removal of Lutz as health officer and a replacement for that position.

Screening For Covid In A Spokane Shelter

Nov 2, 2020
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Despite the uncertainty over who is currently the health officer at the agency, Spokane Regional Health District employees continue to do their jobs. That includes monitoring the health of people who stay at Spokane’s homeless shelters.

Former Spokane Health Officer Says He Was Fired

Nov 2, 2020
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Former Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz has issued a second statement (see full version below), rebutting some statements made by the Spokane Regional Health District.

Lutz is the Spokane County health officer whose employment is in limbo after the district’s administrative officer told her health board she wants to remove him from his job.

 

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Bob Lutz’s future is in doubt as health officer for the Spokane Regional Health District. The district’s administrative officer has asked him to resign, citing only vague reasons related to job performance.

But Lutz has supporters and many of them showed up at a Sunday afternoon rally outside the health district building.

What People Are Saying About SRHD/Lutz Situation

Oct 30, 2020
Washington State Medical Association

A wide variety of interests have weighed in on news that the head of the Spokane Regional Health District has asked Health Officer Bob Lutz to resign.

Spokane Regional Health District

UPDATE: 4:45 pm to include letter of support from school superintendents in Educational Service District 101 (see below)

Spokane Regional Health District spokeswoman Kelli Hawkins says the Board of Health has not scheduled a meeting for this afternoon to discuss the Lutz situation. That would require public notification. She says she will provide an update before the end of the day.

The Spokane Regional Health District's administrative officer has reportedly asked Health Officer Bob Lutz to resign. Amelia Clark addressed reporters during a press conference Friday morning.

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.

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