Growth In Covid Case Numbers Begins To Slow In Spokane

Jun 1, 2020
Spokane COVID Response

The growth in confirmed Covid cases in Spokane County has slowed a bit. The health district reported six new cases on Monday, one of the smallest totals in the last two weeks. Saturday also showed growth, with only eight confirmations.

Health Officer Bob Lutz says it’s a start.

Methow Valley Interpretive Center Prepares For Re-Opening

May 31, 2020
Courtesy of Methow Valley Interpretive Center

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, the Methow Valley Interpretive Center in Twisp was still several weeks from reopening for its 2020 season. More than two months later, the center’s operators are ready to welcome visitors, but the state’s reopening protocols won’t allow it.

Spokane Reports 18 New Covid Cases On Saturday

May 29, 2020
Spokane COVID Response

UPDATED: The Spokane Regional Health District reported another 18 cases on Saturday. 

The county has confirmed 588 people have tested positive for the virus over the last two-plus months with 32 deaths. 138 people have tested positive in the week since Spokane County officially elevated to phase two of the state’s four-phase reopening protocol.

Spokane Records 14 More Coronavirus Cases On Thursday

May 28, 2020
Spokane COVID Response/City of Spokane

Spokane health officials announced 14 more confirmed coronavirus cases on Thursday. That brings the total count to 540 with 31 fatalities.

It’s the seventh time in the last eight days that the county has registered at least 10 new cases.

State of Idaho


Idaho Governor Brad Little today [Thursday] announced his state is ready to move on to the next phase of its coronavirus reopening plan, beginning Saturday.

“Gatherings of up to 50 people can occur where appropriate physical distancing and precautionary measures are observed," Little said.

Spokane Religion News Service Moves Ahead In Covid World

May 28, 2020
Spokane FAVS

On Wednesday, Washington Governor Jay Inslee released guidelines for how churches can convene their congregations in person while maintaining physical distancing. Many have turned to video as their main tool for sharing worship services.

Same strategy for Spokane Faith and Values, a news service that focuses on religion in the community. It’s taking advantage of federal coronavirus relief money to keep itself going.

Historic Dayton Theatre Hopes For Summer Reopening

May 27, 2020
Courtesy of Liberty Theatre

The lights have dimmed for a couple of months at the historic Liberty Theatre in Dayton, Washington, due to the coronavirus. But its manager has plans to reopen the doors this summer.

The story of the theatre is similar to that of many other small-town art houses, says manager Mike Ferrians.

Spokane COVID Response

UPDATE: Spokane Regional Health District officials say the county has received word of 14 new confirmed cases on Thursday. The total is now 540, still with 31 deaths.

Courtesy University of Washington

We’re all riding the Covid rollercoaster. Some of us are weathering the ups and downs better than others.

Anne Browning has been guiding University of Washington students through Covid and some of their other issues. Browning is the founding director of her university’s Resilience Lab. Tonight [Wednesday], she will hold a free webinar for people looking for a little stability during these turbulent times.

New Washington State Rules Target Pandemic Violators

May 26, 2020
Washington Department of Labor and Industries

Washington’s state labor agency is targeting businessowners who are willfully ignoring the governor’s pandemic orders.


The Department of Labor and Industries today [Tuesday] issued emergency rules that gives state inspectors the immediate authority to cite and fine offenders.

Palouse Theatre Adapts As It Navigates Covid Restrictions

May 26, 2020
Courtesy of Regional Theatre of the Palouse

With some Washington counties moving to phase two of the state’s Safe Start protocol, arts and humanities groups are looking forward to reopening their doors.

Some of those groups have recently been fortified by federal CARES Act grants, distributed through Humanities Washington.

One of those is the Regional Theatre of the Palouse, which is treading water and making the best of things.

Spokane COVID Response

UPDATE: Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz reports 23 new cases on Wednesday and more than 100 in the last week. No new deaths and eight people are current hospitalized.

Spokane County is now at 526 confirmed Covid cases.

Courtesy of Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture

Some good news for Spokane’s Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture. Executive Director Wes Jessup says the museum will be allowed to extend the run of an important exhibit about Mt. Vesuvius. That has been closed since March because of the coronavirus.

Idaho Announces Need For More Testing, Contact Tracing

May 22, 2020
Idaho Public Television


An Idaho task force says the state needs to continue to increase its capacity for testing more people for the coronavirus.

The task force released its recommendations today [Friday].

Spokane County Allowed To Move To Phase Two

May 22, 2020
Spokane COVID Response

Spokane County officials today received news they’ve been waiting for for weeks.

“Today we were notified by the Washington state Department of Health that Spokane County was granted variance to move into phase two of the governor’s Safe Start plan to reopen Washington," said Regional Health District Administrator Amelia Clark.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Work environments have become difficult for people who risk exposure to the coronavirus every day. They’ve also become difficult for some people in public health.

This week, the online publication Crosscut wrote about the abuse public health workers in Washington are taking from people complaining about messages about physical distancing and staying at home.

Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz confirms his department is getting them too.

Washington Department of Health

Washington state health officials have added three more counties to list of those eligible to apply for coronavirus-related variances.

Grant County is the only one of the three east of the Cascades.

Courtesy of Spokane Transit

Spokane Transit Authority is getting a $23 million lifeline in the form of emergency funding from the federal government for funding lost from the Covid virus.


The money from Congress was authorized under the Coronavirus Relief and Economic Security Act and it comes at a good time.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz today [Wednesday] issued an order that directs people wear masks when they enter public indoor areas.

“Not necessarily in open spaces, but in stores, if you’re going to be in a confined space where physical distancing is difficult, I am going to strongly recommend, I am going to say you must wear a mask."


Spokane County is now eligible to move to phase two of Washington’s Safe Start protocol. The announcement came Tuesday from Governor Jay Inslee.

He says counties in Washington may apply if they have fewer than 10 new cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day span.

“This, obviously, is happily going to allow more economic opportunity for states that can qualify, while still really providing the protections we need for the health of our citizens," Inslee said.

Courtesy of Idaho Department of Lands

Washington Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz says the agency is planning for a different kind of wildfire season.

“There is no manual that is written on how do you keep your firefighters safe within the context of this pandemic. They fight fires. They’re eating, sleeping, living and fighting those fires in close quarters," Franz said.

Newport Hospital and Health Services

Beginning today [Monday] hospitals in Washington can go back to doing non-essential procedures not related to Covid-19. They include joint replacements, most eye surgeries and procedures such as colonoscopies.

A doctor at one hospital in northeastern Washington says he's ready to get back to normal.

Washington Department of Health

Spokane area elected officials voiced optimism on Thursday that the county will soon receive the state’s permission to allow more businesses to reopen.

Their strategy focused on a regional approach, allowing eastern Washington counties to craft their own reopening strategies. It has largely worked, but not for their county.

Spokane COVID Response

Spokane elected leaders says they’re disappointed in state Health Secretary John Wiesman’s decision to deny the county’s request to speed up plans to reopen the county’s economy.

The county had filed a variance request on Tuesday to allow it to move directly to the second phase of state’s four-part Safe Start plan. The secretary said the state doesn’t yet have criteria to guide more populous counties as they allow more businesses to open.

WA Wildfire Season Already Active; Covid Complicates It

May 14, 2020
Washington Department of Natural Resources

Washington state land managers say the wildfire season is already far more active than in normal years.

The Department of Natural Resources reports 263 fires, as of Tuesday. That’s about two-and-a-half times the usual rate for this time of year.

Idaho To Move To Next Covid Recovery Phase On Saturday

May 14, 2020
State of Idaho

Idaho Governor Brad Little says the Gem State will move to the second phase of state’s four-part coronavirus recovery plan on Saturday.

That means businesses such as gyms and hair salons will be able to reopen with the appropriate precautions.

Little made his announcement today [Thursday] and threw in a surprise as well.

Skepticism Abounds Around Contact Tracing And Mask Orders

May 13, 2020
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane public health officials are not only battling the coronavirus. They’re also battling skepticism from people questioning the effectiveness of their advice and their motives.

When the Spokane Regional Health District moves to enhance its program for tracing people who test positive for Covid-19, its motives will be questioned.

Missy Nadvornick

Spokane County’s contact tracing program to track people with the coronavirus is set to begin June 15.

Training volunteers to help man the program will start June 1.

WSU College of Medicine

Spokane public health officials have recruited medical and nursing students to be part of an enhanced contact tracing team. Their job will be to contact and follow people who test positive for the coronavirus.

One Washington State University medical student is already involved in a similar effort.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

A Spokane company is sending free glucose necklaces to diabetic first responders and health care workers around the nation.  

Kris Maynard is the owner of Glucose Revival and a diabetic firefighter. He created the necklaces for diabetics who wanted an easy-to-get-to source of glucose that they can consume when they need it. He calls the necklaces a diabetic’s version of personal protective equipment.