coronavirus variances

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Spokane County Asks State For Coronavirus Variance

May 11, 2020
Spokane COVID Response

UPDATED with comments from Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward and Commissioner Al French. 

Spokane County’s commissioners voted this morning [Tuesday] to ask Washington Health Secretary John Wiesman to allow the county to move to the next step as it emerges from coronavirus restrictions.

The county wants the same sort of variance that was granted to eight other counties. That would allow them to move directly to phase two of the state’s four-phase reopening plan.

Washington Department of Health

Washington state Health Department officials today [Monday] granted Stevens County the variance it sought to move to the second phase of the state's four-phase reopening plan.

Health Secretary John Wiesman announced Stevens can join Wahkiakum and Skamania Counties in moving to the next phase.


Washington Governor Jay Inslee delivered some good news this afternoon [Friday] to five counties in eastern Washington.

“Today, Secretary of Health John Wiesman approved variances for five counties: Pend Oreille, Lincoln, Ferry, Garfield and Columbia. Others are now getting a little bit further reviews: Skamania, Kittitas and Wahkiakum.”


Elected leaders in Spokane County say they’re looking for specifics as to how they can convince the state to allow more businesses to open soon. Spokane’s mayor says the governor has imposed a strict standard that probably isn’t attainable. Others think he hasn’t yet finalized what he wants from larger counties.

Tri-County Health District

Northeast Washington’s Tri-County Health District has submitted a request to allow three counties to move ahead with reopening their economies.

The Tri-County Health District submitted a variance Tuesday on behalf of Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties. All want to be allowed to skip phase one of the state’s reopening process, which began Tuesday, and move right to phase two.

Spokane COVID Response

Several eastern Washington mayors met virtually today [Tuesday] with Governor Jay Inslee. It’s part of their quest to convince him to allow their counties to move more quickly in reopening their local businesses and economies.

Spokane COVID Response

Idaho and Washington are each moving into new phases in their quests to recover from the coronavirus.

Idaho entered its first phase yesterday [Monday] and Washington enters its first phase today.

Tri-County Health District

The health board that governs Washington’s three northeastern counties has taken the first step toward reopening businesses.

The Tri-County Board of Health voted today [Monday] to allow its health district to formally apply for a variance from the state’s four-step plan for exiting coronavirus restrictions and move more quickly than other counties. Phase one goes into effect statewide on Tuesday.