Courtesy of Panhandle Health District

The Idaho Panhandle Health Board has voted to enact a mask mandate for Kootenai County.

At the end of a three-hour meeting, which included public testimony, the board voted four-to-two to require people to wear face coverings in public.

Spokane Symphony Postpones 75th Anniversary Season For A Year

Jul 23, 2020
Spokane Symphony

The Spokane Symphony says it is postponing its upcoming 75th anniversary season for a year because of the coronavirus.

The traditional Labor Day weekend concerts at Liberty Lake and Comstock Park have been cancelled. The rest of the season, include masterworks and pops concerts, will be pushed back until the ‘21-’22 season, says executive director Jeff vom Saal.

“While it’s unfortunate to have to wait, I really do feel it’s the right thing," he said.

Gonzaga Summer Debate Tournament Goes Online This Year

Jul 22, 2020
Courtesy of Gonzaga University

Gonzaga’s annual summer debate tournament for middle and high school students began today [Wednesday]. In past years, students have flocked to Spokane to advance their arguments in person. This year it’s different.

WSU College of Medicine

Covid has become fertile ground for health sciences researchers, including those headquartered at Washington State University.

Two faculty members in the WSU College of Medicine have earned new grants for projects related to Covid and cancer.

Professors Ofer Amram and Patrik Johansson have each been awarded $100,000 from the Andy Hill CARE Fund for cancer research in western Washington.

Spokane City Launches Covid Relief Money Survey

Jul 21, 2020
City of Spokane

Spokane city officials today [Tuesday] launched a new survey to ask residents how the city should spend its federal coronavirus relief money.

Mayor Nadine Woodward says the city received $6.6 million in CARES Act money.

Spokane Regional Health District

Another day, another big batch of Covid cases in Spokane.

The health district reported 91 new cases on Monday, on top of 85 on Saturday, 61 on Sunday and 133 on Friday.

Many of the people infected are in the 20-to-40 age range. You can conclude, therefore, that the health district’s message of "wear a mask" and "don’t gather in large groups" isn’t working.

Health officials are trying to find a better way to market to young adults.

Public Health Institute

Spokane public health officials have contracted with an Oakland, California-based company to help epidemiologists here trace a growing number of Covid cases.

Spokane is the fourth Northwest county to hire the Public Health Institute to help with contact tracing.

Spokane COVID Response

Spokane County has blown past its previous high in confirmed coronavirus cases.

The Spokane Regional Health District reported 134 new cases on Friday and one new death.

Courtesy of Jo Jorgensen

Jo Jorgensen, the Libertarian Party candidate for president, is campaigning in the Spokane area today [Friday].

Jorgensen is a Chicago native who is now a senior lecturer in psychology at Clemson University in South Carolina.

Spokane Schools Explain Back-To-School Plans In Webinar

Jul 16, 2020
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane school officials on Thursday night held the first of three public webinars to explain their plans for the coming school year.

“Our focus right now is to make sure safety is the utmost importance, to be thinking how we can maximize learning for students during this time and ensuring that we’re there for our families and our kids and we’re there supporting their social and emotional needs," said Superintendent Adam Swinyard.

Brownes Addtion Concert Series


Washington Governor Jay Inslee's office has modified rules for venues that feature entertainment that strictly prohibit live music in areas that are still in phase two - or even phase three - designations because of the Covid virus.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane County health officials say a new survey shows fewer people are wearing face coverings in public.

Health Officer Bob Lutz says the health district last week sent out volunteers to several venues around the county to observe and count how many people were wearing masks.

Spokane Regional Health District

Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz says the health district will soon get more outside help with its work to trace people who test positive for Covid.

“We’re working with an organization called the Public Health Institute that was referred to me by a colleague in the state, where they have had very good luck in working with them," Lutz said.

Annette Elizabeth Allen/NPR

President Trump holds a news conference as schools grapple with how to reopen and coronavirus cases continue to climb.

Jeremy Burnham

There will be no Hoopfest in downtown Spokane this year.

The huge three-on-three basketball tournament had already been postponed once. And now Hoopfest officials say it’s time to concede that it won’t be safe even later in the fall.

Spokane COVID Response/City of Spokane

Spokane County health authorities are urging people who go to get tested for Covid to assume they’re positive and stay home until they hear otherwise.

Health Officer Bob Lutz says many labs that test the samples are so busy that they’re not able to return results for a week or more.

Idaho Public Television

Idaho Governor Brad Little today [Thursday] announced the Gem State will stay where it is in its recovery from the coronavirus.

“Over the past two weeks, Idaho did not meet the criteria to advance past the final stage of the Idaho Rebounds plan. We will remain in stage four for at least another two weeks," the governor said.

State epidemiologist Christine Hahn cited the rise in Covid cases in Idaho over the last two weeks.

Missy Nadvornick

Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz is looking for 80% of county residents to wear masks as they’re out and about. That, he says, is the minimum needed to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Right now, his rough guess is that about 65% of people are masking up.

Spokane County Sets Covid Record On Sunday

Jul 5, 2020
Courtesy of Spokane Regional Health District

Spokane County reported a record 98 confirmed Covid cases on Sunday. That’s 17 more than the previous mark, set earlier last week.

The 20-to-29 age group continues to be the leader in the demographic count with more than a quarter of the county’s 1,668 cases.

Spokane's Covid Count Expands By 70 On Thursday

Jul 2, 2020
Spokane Regional Health District

UPDATE: Washington Governor Jay Inslee has required businesses statewide to require their employees and customers to wear face coverings.  

The Spokane Regional Health District reported 70 new Covid cases today [Thursday]. It’s the third day in the last four that that figure has been 70 or more.

Health Officer Bob Lutz says people younger than 40 continue to account for a large number of the cases.

Spokane Regional Health District/Zoom

Today on the Inland Journal podcast, we’ll spend a few minutes with two Spokane doctors who have been very involved with the care of Covid patients. Drs. Dan Getz and Ben Arthurs briefed reporters on Wednesday about the situations in their respective hospitals when it comes to treating people who are battling the coronavirus. Getz is the chief medical officer at Providence Sacred Heart. Dr. Ben Arthurs is a pulmonologist and intensivist for MultiCare.

Spokane COVID Response

Spokane County health officials are bracing for another holiday weekend and wondering if it will lead to the same results as the last holiday weekend.

Spokane County had just moved to phase 2 of the reopening protocol heading into Memorial Day and the case numbers have since rapidly risen.

Reclaim Idaho

Organizers of an Idaho initiative that would increase spending for public schools have permission to resume gathering signatures.

On Tuesday federal Judge Lynn Winmill in Boise ruled Reclaim Idaho has 48 days to get the rest of what it needs to place its measure on the November ballot.

Another Record High One-Day For Covid In Spokane

Jun 30, 2020
Spokane COVID Response

Spokane County set a new record today [Tuesday] for confirmed coronavirus cases. Health officials reported 81 new cases, breaking yesterday’s record. It means 160 people have been confirmed positive during the last two days.

To contrast, the county registered about 140 new cases from April 13 to May 20.

U.S. Justice Department

An Idaho group that has sponsored a public school funding initiative is asking the state to immediately certify the measure for the November ballot.

Attorneys for Reclaim Idaho filed that motion today [Monday] with a federal judge in Boise not long after the judge ruled against a motion by the state.

Spokane Posts Highest One-Day Confirmed Covid Case Count

Jun 29, 2020
Spokane COVID Response/City of Spokane

Spokane County today [Monday] reported the highest one-day total of new Covid cases: 79, pushing the overall total to 1,302.

The number of people hospitalized is 37, 18 of those Spokane County residents.

While the hospitalization number has been inching up, Health Officer Bob Lutz says Spokane’s situation is not like that in cities where the hospitals are overwhelmed, such as Houston. 

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

One more Spokane insititution is re-emerging from a coronavirus-induced postponement. The city’s community court will reopen Monday and resume its two-day-a-week schedule.

Idaho Initiative Debate Plays Out In Federal Court

Jun 28, 2020
Courtesy of Reclaim Idaho

The state of Idaho is asking a federal court judge to reconsider a ruling he made last Tuesday. It’s related to an initiative campaign that was suspended in March due to the coronavirus. Its sponsors want time this summer to gather more signatures and qualify its school funding measure for the November ballot.

Washington Emergency Management Department

With masks becoming mandatory in Washington today [Friday], the challenge for state and county officials is to get people to comply with Governor Jay Inslee’s order.

The governor walks the talk. He wore a dark blue mask during a press conference in Spokane on Thursday. But sometimes it takes someone with a new voice on the issue to get the message across.

State of Washington

UPDATE: Saturday 2:15 pm:

Washington Governor Jay Inslee says, due to the spread of Covid-19 in some parts of the state, he has ordered a pause in the process of moving counties in phase three of the coronavirus progression to phase four.

Eight rural counties are eligible to move to phase four, but Inslee says, due to the ability of people to move from county to county, that this is not a good time to allow counties to remove all Covid-related restrictions.