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.

Providence Delays All Non-Emergency Procedures

Sep 15, 2021
Courtesy of Providence Health Care

Providence Health Care says it is delaying all non-emergency surgeries and procedures at its two Spokane hospitals because of the Covid patient crush and resulting staff shortages.

The decision affects care at Sacred Heart and Holy Family hospitals.

Screenshot from FDA website

Hospital officials in Washington say Covid patients and their families are asking doctors to prescribe the deworming drug ivermectin as part of their treatment regimens. The drug isn’t recommended by federal or state health authorities for Covid, but patients are asking that it be administered anyway.

Vaccine Deadline Nears For WA State Employees

Sep 13, 2021
Courtesy of Cascade Medical Center

Most Washington state employees face a deadline next month to receive the Covid vaccination they’ll need to keep their jobs. But Monday was an important day for some to stay on track in their quest to reach that goal.

TVW screenshot

A new Washington mask mandate goes into effect today. It applies to crowds of more than 500 people in outdoor settings, even for people who have been vaccinated.

“For anyone wondering why we are doing this, I guess it should be pretty obvious. It’s because we’re seeing evidence of transmission, unfortunately, in outdoor settings. The Watershed Festival at the Gorge led to more than 200 infections from that one event and it was outdoors," said Governor Jay Inslee last week.

Idaho Public TV screenshot

Idaho’s governor is no fan of President Biden’s order that many federal employees and contractors be vaccinated for the coronavirus. 

Brad Little is looking into suing the government.

Rebecca White

Healthcare providers say if COVID numbers don’t improve, Eastern Washington could soon follow North Idaho into crisis standard of care.

Courtesy of Cancer.gov

Monoclonal antibodies have become a more common remedy for those who have tested positive for Covid and who could become vulnerable to some of its more severe symptoms. But where you can receive that treatment has been limited to hospitals and doctors' offices.

Courtesy of Providence Health Care

Many eastern Washington hospitals are being strained by having to care for Covid patients. 

It's not quite as dire as the situation facing north Idaho hospitals, which are rationing resources.

Courtesy of Kootenai Health

North Idaho is now in a "crisis standard of care"  and state health officials warn that the rest of the state soon could be as well, if more people don’t get vaccinated.

Courtesy of Centers for Disease Control

The Covid surge has started a trend that Dr. Tanya Sorensen finds alarming.

“For the first time during the pandemic, we are seeing huge numbers of sick pregnant women, really sick women," she said.

Sorensen is a maternal fetal health physician at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle.

Spokane Looks To State For Covid Testing Help

Sep 1, 2021
Courtesy of CHAS Health

Spokane’s health district is asking the state Department of Health for help in re-establishing a community-based Covid testing site here.

The county has had high case numbers over the last several weeks. Interim Health Officer Francisco Velazquez says there’s no sign yet that trend is changing. The case surge has led to an increased demand for testing.

Idaho Public TV screenshot

Idaho Governor Brad Little says the Gem State’s health care system is close to being overwhelmed because of the growing number of critically ill COVID patients. 

“On a daily call with hospitals this morning [Tuesday], we heard there are only four adult ICU beds available in the entire state, out of close to 400. Our hospitals have converted other spaces to be used as contingency ICU beds. Those are filling up too. Idaho hospitals are beyond constrained," he said.

Courtesy of Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox

Patrons who plan to attend performances at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox will now be required to show proof of vaccination – or negative COVID-19 test.

Spokane Symphony Executive Director Jeff vom Saal said during an interview Monday the changes would go into effect September 7.

Covid Hospitalizations Continue To Increase In Washington

Aug 30, 2021
Courtesy of Confluence Health

The number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus continues to climb in Washington.

The state hospital association says state figures this morning [Monday] showed 1,570 Covid patients admitted to hospitals, up more than 300 from 10 days ago.

Courtesy of Spokane County Interstate Fair

Healthcare leaders in Washington State say they’re concerned that the region’s healthcare system may not be able to handle any upticks in cases, or injuries, that could be coming if the state and local fairs continue as planned.

Jeremy Burnham/SPR

Organizers for Spokane’s iconic 3 on 3 tournament, Hoopfest, have canceled the annual event after a spike in new COVID cases and hospitalizations.

According to a release on the event’s website, organizers said they were concerned by the record-breaking hospitalizations over the last few days and the spread of the significantly more contagious Delta variant. This will be the second year the event has been canceled due to the coronavirus.

Courtesy of the Northeast Tri-County Health District

Hospitalizations and new COVID-19 cases in eastern Washington and north Idaho are soaring – and healthcare providers fear that if this trend continues, there will soon be a shortage of both beds and staff to treat dangerously ill patients from both rural and urban communities.

Northeast Tri County Health Officer Sam Artzis said the counties he serves, Stevens, Ferry and Pend Oreille, have not only approached the high tide mark from last December for hospitalization and new cases.

Courtesy of Matreshka Deli

The Spokane Regional Health District this week is sponsoring a series of Covid vaccination clinics. Two of them are targeted at non-vaccinated people in the Slavic and Spanish-speaking communities.

Washington Mask Mandate Goes Into Effect Today

Aug 23, 2021
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Governor Jay Inslee’s order goes into effect today [Monday].


“Restaurants and offices. Shops. It covers everyone in a public-facing setting, regardless of vaccination status. So, in a place that is open to the public, everyone needs to wear their mask in those conditions," he said.

Courtesy of Columbia County Health System

Even though most hospitals in Washington are full, hospital officials don’t anticipate a situation where they’ll need to transfer Covid patients to other states.
 
Healthcare providers are working together to keep from being overwhelmed.

Rebecca White/SPR

Healthcare providers are raising the alarm as the Inland Northwest hits its highest hospitalization level since the start of the pandemic.

Rebecca White/SPR

As COVID-19 numbers and hospitalizing continue to soar, Spokane’s top health official is again urging people to get vaccinated.

According to the Spokane Regional Health District, Spokane County had 165 people in the hospital Tuesday and 347 new cases. Spokane County has not seen daily case counts this high since last winter. 

In a briefing Wednesday, Spokane Regional Health District Interim Health Officer Francisco Velazquez said the region’s hospitals are strained.

Massive Spike In COVID-19 Expected In Idaho This Fall

Aug 17, 2021
Courtesy of State of Idaho

Idaho health officials are bracing for increased Covid cases by fall.

They say the numbers will be as bad, or worse as previous surges.

Quazoo.com

Fairchild Air Force Base is preparing for a Department of Defense mandate requiring service members to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Some Covid Costs Still Waived In WA, Others Shared

Aug 11, 2021
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

This week Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler extended two emergency orders that protect consumers from some of the costs of diagnosing the coronavirus. At the same time, he says insurance companies are looking to share Covid-related costs in other ways.

Courtesy of Kootenai Health

The three hospital systems in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene says they’re postponing some non-emergency procedures to preserve staff time and beds for more acute cases.

TVW

Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced Monday that Washington State is mandating vaccination for state employees and contractors.

The requirement for state workers to get vaccinations comes as a spike in new COVID-19 infections fueled by the Delta variant hits the state, increasing the burden on hospitals.

Courtesy of Dan Miller

Washington has finished with its vaccine incentive program that used the state lottery.

The state’s top lottery official thinks it made a difference.

Office of the Governor

Idaho Governor Brad Little made an appeal Tuesday to Idaho residents to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

His request comes during a dramatic increase in positive cases.

Annette Elizabeth Allen for NPR

President-elect Biden is set to deliver remarks in which he will "outline his vaccination and economic rescue legislative package." Biden has long said that the most recent coronavirus relief legislation did not go far enough in delivering critical help, and that a new package would be a top priority for his incoming administration. Live video will begin around 4 p.m. PT.

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