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.

Spokane health officials today [Monday] reported the release of improper personal health information.

The health district says it accidentally released the information on September 8 to Educational Service District 101 and one other party.

Dean Hare/WSU Photo Services

This week, the Pacific-12 Conference in college sports may follow other big-name conferences around the country in announcing a shortened fall football season. The conference cancelled its season because of the health risks to the players.

But other conferences around the country have decided the reward is bigger than the risk and have begun modified seasons.

Greater Spokane Sponsors Second PPE Distribution

Sep 20, 2020
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Greater Spokane, Incorporated this week will hold a second round of distribution of personal protective equipment to Spokane County non-profits and businesses.

It’s part of Greater Spokane’s Open Together initiative.

Washington Department of Health

Washington public health authorities say Covid is at least partially responsible for a lull in childhood immunizations this year. They’re working to encourage parents to make sure their children are up-to-date on their shots.

Virtual Bloomsday, All 10 Days Of It, Opens This Weekend

Sep 18, 2020
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

A 43-year-old Spokane sports tradition will take place this weekend, about four months later than usual.

The 12-kilometer Bloomsday run is one of the nation’s largest timed road races, with 35,000-to-50,000 participants, depending on the year.

It’s usually run the first Sunday in May. This year, because of the coronavirus, it was postponed. But there will be a 2020 version, in a different form, even with one last obstacle.

Idaho Public Television

Idaho Governor Brad Little said Friday the Gem State will remain in the final phase of the state’s coronavirus reopening plan.

“In nearly all the metric categories, we are seeing encouraging trends. However, our Covid hospitalizations statewide remain too high, again, to move out of stage four. Idaho will remain in stage four for another two weeks," Little said.

Spokane, North Idaho See Labor Day Covid Increase

Sep 16, 2020
Spokane COVID Response

Spokane may be seeing a bit of a Labor Day Covid bump.

The health district today [Wednesday] reported 62 new cases, the second highest reading in more than a month.


Washington has crossed the 80,000 threshold in total number of confirmed coronavirus cases. And it recently passed 2,000 Covid fatalities.

Those are two big milestones, but state officials are optimistic about the trends. That leads, again, to speculation that maybe it’s time to allow counties to advance in the reopening protocol.

Virtual Classes Began Today In Spokane Public Schools

Sep 14, 2020
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Class began today [Monday] for students in the Spokane School District. Instead of walking into real-life classrooms, they’ll be logging into virtual classrooms, at least for now.

Last week, the teachers and staff at Regal Elementary in northeast Spokane held a week of get-acquainted conferences with students and parents on the school playground. It was their chance to meet face-to-face and for students to check out the laptop computers they’ll use to access class every day.

Washington Department of Natural Resources

A top Washington state lands official says wildland fire crews are doing a good job fighting fires under the constraints of a Covid-related physical distancing.

“There’s nothing that has said that Covid or mitigations around Covid have done that much to severely limit resources available," said Washington state forester George Geissler.

Idaho Public Television

Idaho Governor Brad Little says he’s directing $99 million from what’s left of the state’s federal coronavirus relief money to public schools.

In an announcement in Boise today [Friday] the governor said the federal government notified Idaho last week that it’s allowing more flexibility in how states use CARES Act money for schools.

Little says the money will offset nearly a hundred million dollars in spending cuts he’d ordered earlier this year.

Courtesy of Sara Mader

While Covid has wreaked havoc with many businesses across the country, some companies that have teamed up with Amazon are seeing their businesses flourish. That is definitely the case with one Palouse grain grower.

Spokane Universities Hope To Avoid Covid Surge

Aug 28, 2020
Screenshot from Whitworth YouTube video

Whitman County health officials announced another 41 new coronavirus cases on Thursday. All of them are in the age groups typically associated with college students. That continues the run of Covid-related cases related to the recent return of students at Washington State University’s Pullman campus.

Spokane public health officials hope Spokane’s universities will be able to avoid that kind of outbreak.

State of Idaho

Idaho’s legislature is working to finish its rare mid-summer special session today [Wednesday] in Boise.

The House approved a bill that provides relief for businesses and schools from some Covid-related legal claims.

ID Lawmakers Begin What May Be Final Special Session Day

Aug 26, 2020
Idaho Public Television

Idaho lawmakers have begun what may be the final day of their special legislative session.

Two bills and a resolution appear to still be in play.

Idaho House Committee Holds Voting Center Bill

Aug 25, 2020
State of Idaho

During Idaho’s special legislative session today [Tuesday] a House committee voted to hold a bill that allows counties to designate in-person voting centers. Any voter within a county could go to vote there on Election Day this November, regardless of whether the center is in their precinct.

Many county elections officials say the proposal provides additional options for voters at a time when some polling places are closed due to the coronavirus.  

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Some rural hospitals in the Northwest are struggling to stockpile enough personal protective equipment for employees who care for contagious patients. Those employees say sometimes it means they use that equipment for longer than the recommended period.


One Spokane nurse says, because of that, he’s giving up his vocation until he can feel safe again at the workplace.

Idaho Public Television


Protesters and a call to Governor Brad Little to drop the state's Covid emergency declaration were the highlights of  today’s [Tuesday’s] Idaho special legislation session.

In the first case, dozens of people filled an auditorium where a House committee was set to hear a bill that would limit Covid-related legal liabilities for businesses and schools.

Idaho Public Television

The Idaho Senate has approved a bill that adds an in-person voting option on Election Day in November.

The legislation was one of several bills to be considered during the first day of a special session.

Courtesy of Gonzaga University

Whitman County public health authorities today [Monday] reported one new Covid case. This comes after a weekend in which a two-day flurry produced 69 new cases, all of them in the age group that indicate college students or other young adults.

Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz says he's working with leaders of the Spokane-based institutions to help them avoid what has happened at Washington State University’s Pullman campus.

Idaho Public Television

UPDATED: 2:55 pm

The Idaho Senate today [Monday] approved a bill that adds an in-person voting center option to supplement neighborhood polling places on Election Day in November.

“What we would do is make it possible for any voter to go to any location to vote," said Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane, speaking during the first day of the Idaho special legislative session.

Washington Dept. of Parks and Recreation

Washington’s state parks have become very popular this summer, thanks to people who are escaping home for a little fun and relaxation.

All that love is taking its toll, particularly on one north Spokane park.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR


The grand experiment begins Monday for at least three Inland Northwest colleges and universities. Washington State, the University of Idaho and North Idaho College will begin their first academic year in the coronavirus age.

All of the institutions have plans on how to put in place various safety procedures, including distancing, temperature checks and mask requirements. And all plan a mix of online and in-class instruction.