Coronavirus Updates and Information

See the latest news pertaining to the coronvirus and find resources to help you and your community.

Stay Connected and Informed:

In the spirit of “putting our own airline masks on first before helping others,” SPR is also taking proactive steps to limit potential exposure here at the station. These steps include heightened sanitary measures, limiting traffic through the station, as well as discontinuing live performances and interviews for the moment. You may also notice some small changes in our programs as we work to maintain a high level of service—and to do it safely.

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.

Omak Hospital Hangs On; Waits For Government Aid

3 hours ago
Courtesy of Mid-Valley Hospital

Rural hospital administrators in the Northwest are waiting to see if federal coronavirus aid will be coming their way. For some, it could be the difference between staying open and closing their doors.

At Mid-Valley Hospital in Omak, CEO Alan Fisher knows he doesn’t have much financial cushion.

Public Domain Pictures/Paul Brennan

Spokane area business leaders say they’re working to help firms not only get through the current crisis, but also to help them recover after it’s over.

One of the first steps, says County Commissioner Al French, is for Governor Jay Inslee to reverse his decision that residential homebuilding is a non-essential business. French and his fellow commissioners requested that in a letter to the governor this week.

Courtesy of Gizmo

Today on Inland Journal, people and companies are busy making personal protective equipment for people who are exposed to the coronavirus. We talk with the director of one Coeur d’Alene company.

We talk with a hospital CEO in Omak about the struggles there and what his facility is doing to stay afloat.  A Spokane dentist tells us how practices have changed recently

We’ll meet Washington’s coronavirus czar and learn how the virus is affecting spring planting for farmers in central Washington.

Those stories and more on Inland Journal, after the news.

Humanities, Arts Organizations To Apply For Federal Aid

Apr 8, 2020
Humanities Washington

Federal coronavirus aid will soon be headed to arts and humanities organizations in Washington.

Humanities Washington will be the conduit for money for humanities groups. The state Arts Commission will send out for arts groups.

Julie Ziegler from Humanities Washington says the grants will help recoup the money lost when organizations had to cancel events.

Big Table

Coronavirus-related restrictions have cost restaurants and hotels in Washington nearly $600 million dollars in lost business during the last month.

In addition, says Tobby Hatley from the Washington Hospitality Association, nearly 110,000 employees have lost their jobs.

Wikimedia Commons

It’s an interesting time to work for a financial institution.

With the recent passage of the federal CARES Act, banks and credit unions are fielding a wave of requests by businesses looking for payroll relief under the new Paycheck Protection Program.

And Ezra Eckhardt is right in the middle of it.

Washington Office of the Insurance Commissioner

The Washington Insurance Commissioner’s office warns it’s watching for scams related to the coronavirus outbreak.

Phil Comstock from the agency's criminal investigations unit says his office prosecuted 39 fraud case across the state last year.

He says currently it has no cases related specifically to the coronavirus, but has heard of related cases happening in other parts of the country.

CDA Company Helps Fill Demand For Face Shields

Apr 3, 2020
Barb Mueller/Gizmo

A Coeur d’Alene company is joining the movement of private companies helping to secure equipment needed to protect people from the coronavirus.

It’s one of several Idaho firms engaged in a new movement called #IdahoMakersUnite.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane health officials hope to reopen the county’s portable coronavirus screening site this week.

“We’ve identified a new site at the fairgrounds that is enclosed and so we won’t have to worry about the fickleness of our spring weather and we hope to have that site up and running as early as 10 am this Thursday," said Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz.

Spokane Coronavirus Notes: Tuesday

Mar 31, 2020
Spokane COVID Response

Spokane County’s screening of patients for coronavirus at the county fairgrounds is on hold because of bad weather on Monday.

"We saw that the tent was blown over and so, because of those concerns, we are re-identifying or looking for a new spot for that tent. So until further notice, it looks like tent is going to be closed for screening at least until Wednesday. It’s our hope that we can have it up, best, by Thursday," said Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz.

Spokane Property Tax Deadline Extended

Mar 30, 2020
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane County taxpayers are getting some extra time to pay their property taxes this spring.

The county’s chief deputy treasurer, Mike Volz, says the April 30 deadline has been pushed back to June 15.

Spokane COVID Response

The city of Spokane opened a new shelter this afternoon [Monday] on the first floor of the downtown public library. That’s a space that was to be ready for renovation, but Mayor Nadine Woodward says now it’s pressed into duty for up to 100 people who are currently without homes.

Idaho's Primary Election Won't Be Postponed

Mar 30, 2020
Idaho Secretary of State

Idaho’s May 19 primary election will not move to a different date, but it will be conducted differently.

The governor’s office today [Monday] announced the election will be all vote-by-mail. He issued a statement saying it became clear the state wouldn’t have access to enough polling places and workers to make voting at the polls possible.

Jesse Tinsley/Spokesman-Review

Two weeks before Spokane went on lockdown, the news was the disease wouldn’t come here.

The newspaper told its readers that “there is no reason to be greatly alarmed” because the “imported type” of viral infection was “not available” here.

The city’s public health officer offered soothing words.

“If Spokane people will sneeze in their handkerchiefs and turn their heads the ‘other’ way when they cough, there is but a remote chance that the city will be attacked,” he told the paper.

They were wrong.

Spokane Transit has suspended bus fares temporarily while the county deals with restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus.

The agency’s ridership is way down in this ‘stay-at-home’ time. Passenger numbers are about a third of normal. The number of people riding the paratransit vans is one-fifth of normal.

Fairchild Airman Writes COVID-19 Book For Children

Mar 27, 2020
Courtesy of Adam Wallace

Many of us are trying to adjust to our lives in the coronavirus era. Adam Wallace is thinking about how it affects children. Wallace is in the Air Force, stationed at Fairchild. He’s working toward a master’s degree in public health with an eye on medical school in the future. Wallace has been working from home lately and he’s had a little extra time. So during the last couple of weeks, he’s written a children’s book about COVID-19.

Spokane County

Spokane emergency management officials are working through the details of creating an emergency health care facility at the Fairgrounds.

County health officer Bob Lutz says one of the goals is to find a safe place to house patients with non-urgent conditions so that hospital beds can be saved for a potential surge in coronavirus cases.

Courtesy of Adam Wallace

Today on Inland Journal and the Inland Journal podcast, the states of Washington and Idaho are now both in ‘stay-at-home mode.’ Spokane County officials stay consistent with the “social distancing” message, but not everyone is listening. An employee at Fairchild Air Force Base tries to explain the coronavirus and its ripples in a new book for children. And we’ll hear about life in an Idaho household where Dad has the virus and the rest of the family is trying to avoid it. Those stories and we’ll ask you about your new coronavirus rituals today on Inland Journal, after the news.

Idaho Governor Issues Statewide Stay-At-Home Order

Mar 25, 2020
Idaho Governor's office

Idaho Governor Brad Little has issued an order requiring his state’s residents to stay-home whenever possible.

The governor also signed what his office calls an “extreme emergency declaration.”

Spokane COVID Response

Spokane city officials expect to add — by early next week — a new temporary facility to the inventory of shelters available to people who are homeless. It’s one of two measures that will be taken to provide help for sick people with few resources.

Mayor Nadine Woodward announced today [Wednesday] that the city is configuring its soon-to-be-renovated downtown library into a place that can house at least 100 people. This is intended to provide more physical space between people in the shelters.

Spokane COVID Response

Spokane elected officials are urging residents to obey the rules set out by Governor Jay Inslee and ‘stay at home’ if at all possible.

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich and others held a press briefing this [Tuesday] morning, in which they presented a unified front in favor of physical distancing strategies to combat the coronavirus.

Spokane COVID Response

Spokane elected officials say they support Governor Jay Inslee's decision to require Washington residents to stay at home as much as possible.

Inslee issued a stay-at-home order Monday evening, requiring people to hunker down at home for at least the next two weeks.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

One of the main players in Spokane County’s coronavirus response is Health Officer Bob Lutz. Lutz is the person who usually decides whether public gatherings should be curtailed or schools should be closed. I say usually because, in the case of closing schools, he was pre-empted by the governor. Lutz wasn’t ready to recommend school closures in the county.

Lutz says the challenge with this coronavirus situation has been the messaging to the public.

Shall I Be Tested For The Coronavirus?

Mar 22, 2020
Spokane Regional Health District

The Spokane Regional Health District has created a graphic that gives guidance to those who wonder whether they should be tested for the coronavirus.

Courtesy of Salvation Army

What happens to entities that are in the hospitality business when they have to turn people away because of the coronavirus?

We’ve learned that many restaurants, for example, have adapted by offering take-out and delivery services. Others have closed.

At Spokane’s Salvation Army, Major Ken Perine says he’s had to restrict access to the programs offered on its campus.

Panhandle Health District

UPDATED: Sunday 5:00 pm: The Panhandle Health District  has confirmed three more COVID-19 cases in Kootenai County, pushing north Idaho's total to six. The latest cases are:

Case 4: Female under the age of 18 from Kootenai County. She is self-isolating at home. Contact tracing is ongoing.

Case 5: Male in his 30s from Kootenai County. The individual has been self-isolating at home. Contact tracing is ongoing.

Case 6: Female in her 30s from Kootenai County. She is currently self-isolating at home. Contact tracing is ongoing.

The state of Idaho is reporting 47 confirmed cases of coronavirus, 21 in Blaine County, 13 in Ada County.

UPDATED Saturday 2:30 pm: Spokane County health officials today announced five new confirmed cases of coronavirus, bringing the county’s total to 16.

County Health Officer Bob Lutz announced Friday that he’s declaring a public health emergency. That includes closing public playgrounds as a way to enforce the physical distancing requirements, especially among children.

Idaho Public Television

UPDATE: Health officials in north Idaho says two more confirmed cases of the coronavirus have been reported. Both are in Kootenai County.

The Panhandle Health District says one is a man who is younger than 30. He put himself in isolation after returning from travel. He is experiencing mild symptoms. The second person is a woman in her 60s. She is also recovering at home from mild symptoms.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Today on Inland Journal and the Inland Journal podcast, the coronavirus hijacked the Washington legislative session during its last couple of weeks. Lawmakers worked to approve a $200 million package aimed at helping people affected by Covid-19.

We’ll talk with two Spokane area legislators about that and other accomplishments from the session. Coronavirus could be a big issue in correctional facilities.

We’ll hear about the closure of Spokane’s non-profit legal clinic, the Center for Justice. Those stories and more on Inland Journal.

KTVB-TV

Idaho Governor Brad Little is urging his state’s citizens to impose more discipline on themselves to keep COVID-19 from spreading. The governor told reporters today [Wednesday] that the Gem State will adopt federal guidelines to maintain as much physical distance between people as they can.

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