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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Courtesy of LINC Foods

Grocery shopping has changed for people who want to stay away from crowded supermarkets. Many have turned to delivery and pick up options, some of those offered by national outlets.

One Spokane cooperative is offering those options to people who want to buy from local farmers.

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.

King County Encourages Face Masks In Public

May 11, 2020
Missy Nadvornick

Seattle and King County officials today [Monday] urged residents to wear face masks whenever they’re in indoor public spaces and not able to get proper distancing from others.

County Executive Dow Constantine says the goal is to protect workers in places where they come in close contact with customers.

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.

EWU Says It Will Focus On Online Learning This Fall

May 5, 2020
Eastern Washington University

Eastern Washington University says it will make online instruction the top priority for fall quarter, continuing on with its approach to teaching this spring.

Provost David May says administrators are following the advice of health experts on campus.

Gizmo Continues In Major "Making" Mode

May 5, 2020
Courtesy of Gizmo

A few weeks ago, we told you about Gizmo, the Coeur d’Alene-based non-profit innovation lab that was making face shields for first responders and health care workers in Kootenai County.

“It’s just been a high-energy time of transferring our knowledge and re-creating things in a better way. It’s just been beautiful," said Gizmo co-owner Barb Mueller.

We checked in again a few days ago and found that Gizmo is busier than ever.

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.