Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Hospitals in Washington may soon be allowed to resume performing non-essential medical procedures. Hospital administrators are pleased about that, but the union that represents nurses isn’t.

Mad Rush Expected When Round Two Of The PPP Begins

Apr 26, 2020
Small Business Administration screenshot

Part two of the Paycheck Protection Program may begin as soon as Monday. Congress allocated another $321 billion for the program designed to help businesses continue to pay their employees.

Ezra Eckhardt from Spokane Teachers’ Credit Union expects a mad rush to secure funding.

“The last round lasted 13 days. The projections are that this could be as early as two or three days to have the funding run out.”

Idaho Department of Lands

Friday was Arbor Day, a reminder that this is the time of year when crews are planting trees in Northwest forests.

Robbie Johnson from the Idaho Department of Lands says her agency expects to put nearly two million seedlings into the ground on state endowment land this spring. Many of those will be planted in an area near the north central Idaho town of Kooskia that burned five years ago.

Spokane Covid Testing To Change To Dispersed Locations

Apr 24, 2020

Spokane County will move to a new Covid testing phase beginning next Friday.

For the last few weeks, people wanting tests have been able to go to their doctor or to the county’s mobile testing clinic at the Spokane County Fairgrounds.

Courtesy of Mid-Valley Hospital

Hospitals in the Northwest are waiting to see how a new round of federal aid will trickle down to them. This week, Congress approved $75 billion for hospitals as part of its second round of funding for the Payroll Protection Program. 

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Washington voters have cast ballots by mail exclusivity for 10 years. Other states are exploring that option, with Covid-19 looming as a potential threat for the presidential election in November.


Secretary of State Kim Wyman looks back at how the state has dealt with challenges to vote-by-mail, and what else might be ahead for voters this fall.

Missy Nadvornick

Washington Governor Jay Inslee says the state expects to soon expand coronavirus testing around the state as more kits become available.

Along with that will be an increase in contact tracing. That’s the detective work done by health organizations to pinpoint who people with the coronavirus have had contact with.

Courtesy of Spokane Regional Health District

Our new Inland Journal podcast features a chat with Spokane County Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz. We’ll hear about an isolation facility at the Spokane County Fairgrounds where people who were exposed to the coronavirus and show  symptoms (or who have symptoms of flu or the cold) can stay if they have nowhere safe to go. We’ll also talk about expanded testing and contact tracing and other issues. This program was recorded Thursday afternoon, April 23.

Idaho Governor Announces Four-Stage Reopening Plan

Apr 23, 2020
State of Idaho

Idaho Governor Brad Little has announced a four-stage plan for re-opening the state’s businesses and communities after closures due to the coronavirus.

“The first stage will be almost all the retail and houses of faith. The second stage will be restaurants. The third stage will be bars," Little said.

The fourth stage will allow even larger gatherings with the appropriate physical distancing.

The first stage is scheduled to take effect May 1.

Spokane Leaders Look For More Clarity From Governor

Apr 22, 2020
Spokane COVID Response

Spokane elected leaders say they’re looking for more clarity from Governor Jay Inslee as they move forward with plans to rebuild the county’s economy.

The governor on Tuesday night announced the state is slowly working its way toward loosening restrictions.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The federal government is sending about $90 million from the coronavirus recovery fund to Spokane County.

County commissioners say they’re interested in hearing how people want that to be divided. They’ve created an online survey for people to fill out.

But one Spokane group hopes they’ll do more to make sure the money gets into the right hands.

Hear Washington Governor Jay Inslee's Address Tonight

Apr 21, 2020

Washington Governor Jay Inslee gave a brief statewide address Tuesday evening. He talked about how the state will move ahead during the next few weeks.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department is turning to a new tool to prolong the usable life of its personal protective equipment. The machine uses ultraviolet light to sanitize masks and other equipment used by first responders.

Noah Fortson/NPR

Watch the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic, including regular White House briefings for this week of April 20. 

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

During the last few weeks, Spokane County judges have been reviewing the cases of people who are incarcerated at the county jail and the Geiger Correctional Center. Many of the inmates held on lower-level charges were released on their own recognizance as a way to reduce their exposure in case someone in the jail tests positive for the coronavirus.

Members of the Spokane Smart Justice Coalition, including Carmen Pacheco-Jones, applaud that.

Spoklane COVID Response

Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz says advice from the Washington Department of Health about when to test people for the coronavirus is changing.

“There will be new guidance coming out this week to health care professionals that will be talking about the importance of testing anybody, anybody, I emphasize, who has symptoms that are suggestive of COVID-19," Lutz said.

Spokane County Solid Waste image

Spokane County officials says its waste transfer stations are open during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Both of the county's waste transfer stations, off Sullivan Road in Spokane Valley and off Highway 2 at Elk-Chattaroy Road, are open and accepting garbage as well as green garden materials and recyclables.

But the lockdown has meant more people have time on their hands to work on their yards and clean out basements and garages.

Northwest Hospitals Hopeful For More Federal Aid

Apr 19, 2020
Courtesy of Mid-Valley Hospital

Washington hospital officials are hoping Congress and the Trump Administration are able to agree on a package that includes more aid for hospitals.

Cassie Sauer from the Washington State Hospital Association says that money would supplement funds already approved by Congress.

State of Idaho

Idaho state parks officials are trying to maintain a balance between allowing day-time public access to favored areas, but keeping people from getting too close to each other.

Governor Brad Little’s office has launched a “Recreate Responsibly” campaign, aimed at promoting good behavior.

Providence Offers Faster COVID Testing To Some In Spokane

Apr 17, 2020

Providence has begun a pilot program to offer quick COVID-19 testing for health care workers and others at high risk of contracting the virus.

People who are interested are asked to book a virtual care appointment with a Providence provider.

Tim Pfarr/Washington State Hospital Association

Nine rural hospitals in Washington have new shipments of hospital masks, thanks to the organization that advocates for them in Olympia. And that organization’s CEO is getting a big kick out of the whole thing.

Spokane Patients Part of Coronavirus Drug Trial

Apr 16, 2020
Courtesy of MultiCare

Three dozen Washington patients are part of a trial for Remdesivir, a drug doctors say has promise for treating the coronavirus, including five from Spokane.

Dr. Vinay Malhotra is the principal investigator in western Washington. He’s a physician and researcher at MultiCare’s Institute for Research and Innovation in Tacoma.

Spokane Regional Domestic Violence Coalition

Today on Inland Journal, advocates who work with domestic violence survivors worry all this time at home may put their clients in danger.

Spokane County has released inmates from its jails to protect them from the coronavirus. We’ll about concerns about that members of the Smart Justice Spokane Coalition

And what’s medical education without in-person examinations? It’s all about Zoom. We’ll hear how the University of Washington medical school has adapted.

Noah Fortson/NPR

Watch the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic, including regular White House briefings for this week of April 13.

Idaho Governor Extends Statewide Stay-At-Home Order

Apr 15, 2020
State of Idaho

Idaho Governor Brad Little has extended by two weeks statewide stay-at-home orders to combat the coronavirus. But he announced in Boise today [Wednesday] that some businesses that have been considered non-essential will be allowed to reopen.

Gonzaga University

Gonzaga has joined the list of universities around the nation in saying they won’t consider pre-college test scores for the class of 2021.

The College Board, which administers both the SAT and the ACT, says it has cancelled most of the spring testing opportunities because of the coronavirus.

Spokane COVID Response

Tuesday will mark one month since Spokane County recorded its first confirmed case of coronavirus. Since then, 275 people have tested positive; 15 have died.

On Monday, community leaders held a briefing to answer some of the questions they heard during an online and telephone town hall meeting from last Wednesday. They included a question for Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward about how economic and other restrictions would be lifted, when it’s time.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Many people have turned to alternative ways of buying groceries. Instead of going to a supermarket, some have them delivered. Others call in orders and then go pick them up.

Many of those services are offered by national or regional outlets, such as Amazon, Walmart and Fred Meyer. But a Spokane-area company is also offering grocery delivery services on a smaller scale.

Spokane Regional Health District

Spokane County has crossed the 250 mark in confirmed coronavirus cases. Four new cases have pushed the total 251 with 14 deaths. The health district doesn’t list the number of people tested.

Health Officer Bob Lutz says the county has a long way to go before the outbreak would be considered over or even controlled. But the light at the end of the tunnel may be getting brighter.

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler says auto insurance companies should consider giving rebates to customers, because of the effect the COVID-19 virus has had on driving in the state.

Kreidler says, because of the statewide lock-down in place, it's estimated traffic levels are about half of what they normally are. And accidents are down.