Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane County will soon distribute face coverings to local non-profits to distribute to individuals whose income is 200% or less of the federal poverty level. Simone Ramel-McKay from the emergency management division says her office expects to receive about 320,000 masks next month.

Pediatricians Watch For Covid-Related Illness In Children

Jun 24, 2020
Pennsylvania Department of Health

Pediatricians are on the lookout for more cases of a Covid-related virus that has afflicted a handful of children in the Northwest.

It’s called Multi-system Inflammatory Syndrome in children and it shows up after a child has contracted Covid.

Video shot from Spokane Regional Health District

Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz says he doesn’t believe social justice protests have contributed much to the consistent rise in the number of Covid cases in the county.

During a media briefing Wednesday, Lutz said tracers have been able to tie five confirmed cases to the initial protest on May 31.

U.S. Justice Department

A federal judge in Boise today [Tuesday] ruled in favor of an initiative campaign that wants to require the state to devote more money to public schools.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

One of the challenges for businesses during this Covid pandemic is finding enough hygiene products to keep workplaces and employees clean and safe.

Greater Spokane has pulled together a collection of personal protective equipment that it will distribute to small businesses next week.

Washington Department of Social and Health Services

Washington state social service officials say they will soon offer food benefits to families whose children have missed out on free school lunches this spring.

The program is called Pandemic-EBT, or electronic benefit transfer. It’s a federal program adminstered by states.

Spokane Now Two Confirmed Covid Cases Short of 1,000

Jun 22, 2020
Spokane COVID Response

Spokane County is now two confirmed Covid cases away from a thousand, with 22 new cases reported today [Monday] and 157 during the last seven days.

Spokane’s consistent increases come at a time when some elected officials, particularly the three county commissioners, are pushing the health officer to move forward in the process toward phase three.

Providence Supports Staying At Phase Two For Now

Jun 19, 2020
Providence Health and Services

Providence Health Care has issued a statement in support of Spokane County staying at phase two of Washington’s reopening protocol.

Providence said it supports the decision by the Regional Health District and Health Officer Bob Lutz to stay at level two for now.

Spokane Coalition To Host Juneteenth Event Friday Evening

Jun 19, 2020
Inland Northwest Juneteenth Coalition

African-Americans and others are celebrating Juneteenth today [Friday]. It’s the 155th anniversary of the date in which Black slaves in the former Confederate states were freed.

In Spokane, the Inland Northwest Juneteenth Coalition is sponsoring what it’s calling a virtual celebration and conversation.

Washington Department of Corrections

Is Spokane County ready to move to the next phase of Washington’s coronavirus reopening protocol? County commissioners and Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward say yes. Health Officer Bob Lutz is skeptical. 

Lutz cites the doubling of the number of confirmed cases since the Memorial Day weekend. But he’s also worried about another factor.

Courtesy of MultiCare

Spokane County health officials say a new public Covid testing site will open to the public tomorrow [Friday] in Airway Heights. Health Office Bob Lutz says it replaces the public drive-through site at the county Fairgrounds that closed a few weeks ago.

Spokane County Commissioners Push To Move To Level Three

Jun 17, 2020
Spokane County Commissioners

Spokane County’s commissioners today formally asked Health Officer Bob Lutz to initiate the process to move the county to level three of the state’s reopening plan.

In the letter signed by all three commissioners, the trio say they believe the "clear majority" of hospitals and businesses are ready to move to phase three. They say those companies are following the strict sanitary and spacing guidelines needed to keep their customers safe.

Washington Department of Health



The state of Washington has opened a new statewide toll-free telephone hotline for people who are struggling during the Covid pandemic.

One of the partners is Spokane’s Frontier Behavioral Health, where Kelli Miller is chief administrative officer.

Spokane COVID Response

Spokane County reported nine more confirmed Covid cases on Monday, pushing the total to 842.

Health Officer Bob Lutz attributed part of that today [Monday] to more testing. He says providers around the county have tested about 6,000 people in the three weeks since Memorial Day, compared to about 4,000 in the preceding three weeks.

Lutz says there’s one new trend.

Spokane COVID Response

UPDATED: Monday 3 pm

Spokane County added nine new Covid cases on Monday. That, added to 31 reported over the weekend, continues the steady increase in confirmed cases since the county moved to phase two of the state’s reopening strategy. The official count is now 842.

The trend in Spokane has caught the attention of the Washington Department of Health.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Washington’s state school superintendent say students are going back to school this fall. On Thursday, Chris Reykdal announced his coronavirus advice for school districts.

Later in the day, the Community Colleges of Spokane became the latest institution of higher education to announce that they, too, will welcome students back to the classroom this fall.

Covid has greatly complicated the process of teaching students and keeping them safe.

Photo Heather Keen

The Coeur d'Alene Tribe is making a special effort to keep its elders safe from the Covid virus. 


The tribe's Older Americans Program is working in conjunction with its Miramn Health Clinic to provide special Covid Safety Packs to tribal members older than age 55.

Idaho To Move To Phase 4 Reopening On Saturday

Jun 11, 2020
State of Idaho

Idaho Governor Brad Little has announced his state will move to the final phase of its reopening strategy, beginning Saturday.

“One hundred percent of businesses will be able to open their doors as we enter stage four of our Idaho Rebounds plan."

Wildfire Crews Adjust Training Because Of Covid

Jun 10, 2020
Washington Department of Natural Resources

Covid has had at least some effect on wildfire training in eastern Washington this spring.

In Fire District 9 in north Spokane County, firefighters are getting their wildfire refresher courses via video, rather than the usual in person classes. But there’s only so much you can do by watching a screen, says Chief Jack Cates.

Washington Department of Natural Resources

A U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee on Tuesday asked federal lands officials about the nation’s readiness for wildfire season.

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) warned that, with the calendar moving to mid-June, there isn’t much time left to prepare.

“The National Interagency Fire Center issued the wildland potential outlook for the fire season and, for the state of Washington and, I would say, the whole Pacific Northwest, we are in the bullseye of what is likely to be a very challenging fire season,” Cantwell said.

Reclaim Idaho

An Idaho group that hopes to put a public school funding initiative on the November ballot is asking a federal judge for extra time to collect signatures.

“What we’re calling for is an extension of the deadline for collecting ballot initiative signatures and also for the permission to collect signatures online," said Reclaim Idaho's Luke Mayville.

Masks Now Required At Washington Workplaces

Jun 9, 2020
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

A new rule requiring employees in Washington to wear masks in the workplace took effect today.

“It’s stratified by going from essentially very low risk to high risk," said Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz at a media briefing.

Spokane COVID Response/City of Spokane

The counties surrounding Spokane have again moved a level ahead in the state’s coronavirus reopening protocol.

Whitman was the latest to move to level three on Saturday. Spokane is eligible on Friday to apply for level three. But County Health Officer Bob Lutz says Spokane isn’t ready yet.

WSU Health Sciences

The Covid epidemic has left its mark on Washington State University’s health research portfolio. Researchers in the infant and maternal health field have adjusted their projects to explore the effects of the rapidly changing realities.

Celestina Barbosa-Leiker says, when the coronavirus epidemic hit, many of WSU’s infant and child researchers realized that new mothers and pregnant women are bearing an unusual amount of stress.

Idaho Offers Cash Incentives To Get People Back To Work

Jun 5, 2020
Idaho Public Television

Idaho Governor Brad Little today [Friday] announced cash incentives for people who are currently collecting unemployment benefits, despite being called back to their jobs.

“The one-time return-to-work bonuses will be provided to the worker upon return to the workplace," he said.

Spokane County has 57 new confirmed cases of Covid-19, according to Health Officer Bob Lutz. That pushes the county over the 700 mark.

Lutz attributes some of that to increased activity during a nice Memorial Day, now nearly two weeks in the past. And some, he says, is simply due to more testing.

Coeur d'Alene Tribe

In north Idaho, the Panhandle Health District says it has detected cases of community transmission in two new counties, Benewah and Bonner. That’s when epidemiogists determine the infection was passed between community members and not initiated from an outside source.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The efforts by the state of Washington to secure equipment for Covid testing continue to be spotty. State officials say the federal government sent only a fraction of the promised supplies in May.

Meanwhile, a Spokane Native health leader says she’s also having difficulty getting the test equipment her clinic needs.

Courtesy of UW School of Medicine

Summer vacation has come early for many students.

For medical students, especially those who have just finished their first years, summers are anything but vacations.

Here's how the coronavirus may affect the summer routines for Spokane students from the University of Washington’s medical school.

Washington Counties Ready To Apply To Level Three

Jun 2, 2020
Washington Department of Health

The Board of Health for Washington’s three northeast counties voted today [Tuesday] to apply for phase three of the state’s four-phase coronavirus reopening protocol.

Tomorrow [Wednesday] is the first day for Washington counties to apply. They must have spent a full three weeks in phase two before they can apply to move up.