Deer Park School District/Zoom

The Deer Park school board voted Monday night to join a few other Spokane area school districts in adopting a hybrid format for the academic year.

That means parents will have the option of sending their children to school. They’ll also have the option of keeping their kids at home.

Mead School District/Zoom

UPDATED: The Deer Park School District has voted to allow in-person instruction for students, joining Mead and East Valley as Spokane-area districts that will have students in classrooms as the academic year begins.

Tonight [Monday] the Mead school board will decide whether to postpone for a couple of weeks the start of the academic year.

They're part of the debate between those who believe opening schools is too risky and those who say not opening them is also risky. 

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Part of the battle for local health officials in monitoring the coronavirus is getting enough testing and personal protective equipment for health care workers.

The Spokane Regional Health District relies almost exclusively on the state Department of Health for its supplies.

Health Officer Bob Lutz says that supply chain has been somewhat spotty. But he hit the motherlode last week with a shipment of about 125-thousand KN-95 masks.

Spokane Covid Small Business Grant Program Closes Monday

Aug 10, 2020
Greater Spokane Incorporated

Today [Monday] is the final day for small businesses and non-profits to apply for Covid-related aid through Spokane County.

The county allocated $10 million from the federal CARES Act to help small businesses and non-profits with their operating costs.

CDA Marathon Finds Way To Stage Its Race This Year

Aug 10, 2020
CDA Marathon/Negative Split

The coronavirus is forcing event organizers to find new ways to stage their events.

The Coeur d’Alene Marathon will take place as usual later this month.

But race director Ryan Hite says what is normally a one-day event has been extended to three days, August 21 through 23.  

“There’s not going to be a big after party. There’s not going to be a beer garden," Hite said.

Census Bureau

Census bureau employees have begun the last phase of collecting data for the 2020 national head count.

Census spokesman Toby Nelson says about 3,000 people began knocking on doors in 20 counties in eastern Washington over the weekend. Canvassers have been out in north Idaho the past few weeks. They will be working between now and the end of September to follow up with people who haven’t filled out census forms.

Mead District Makes Decision To Send Students To School

Aug 9, 2020
Mead School District

The Mead School District has determined the basic outline of how it will proceed with the academic year that will begin next month, but there’s still one important question to answer. That in a minute.

The board on Thursday voted to give parents the option to send their children to school or to keep them at home and learn full-time online, as explained by Superintendent Shawn Woodward.

“For K-5, parents could choose to send their kids just like they normally would. K-5 students would go every day, full day, a regular school day, with all the safety precautions. School will look very different."

Mead School District


Parents in Spokane’s Mead School District now have the option of sending their children to school, at least part time, or to keep them at home and learn online.

The board made that decision at its Thursday meeting.

Spokane Sets New One-Day Covid High

Aug 6, 2020
Spokane COVID Response

Another new daily Covid record for Spokane County. Today [Thursday] the health district reported 175 cases, about 30 more than the previous one-day high.

The spike came during a period when the daily trend had seemed to stabilize. The average for the five previous days was about 65 cases per day.

Idaho Public Television

Idaho Governor Brad Little says individual school districts will decide whether to bring students back to the classroom this fall. But he says the expectation is that schools will not be closed for an extended period.

Little told reporters today [Thursday] the state has allocated tens of millions of dollars to pay for a variety of Covid-related school needs, from computers and Internet connections to testing and PPE supplies.

He says he’s sure that when students and teachers are summoned back to schools, they’ll be safe.


Washington Governor Jay Inslee has released what he calls a “decision tree” to help school districts decide how to teach students this fall.

The governor has three levels of recommendations, including for districts in counties with higher Covid spread rates.

Spokane Regional Health District



After a few weeks of steady increases in Covid numbers, Health Officer Bob Lutz says there may be some room for optimism.

“I think that maybe things are starting to change a little bit. I’m encouraged by the fact that our case counts have been fairly consistent with those little blips," Lutz said.

Over the last four days, the county has averaged 65 new cases, compared to a three-week period in July when the daily count was routinely in the 80s, 90s or triple digits.

Spokane COVID Response

Spokane has crossed the four thousand mark in confirmed coronavirus cases over the last four months, but there may be room for optimism.

After a record high 145 cases reported on Friday, the health district reported 187 positive tests from Saturday-through-Monday, an average of about 60 a day. That’s an improvement over the average daily counts for the last four weeks or so.

But there is one trend for concern: the slow, continued growth in the number of people hospitalized for Covid.

Administrators in Spokane’s two largest school districts have announced their schools will not start their academic year in classrooms.

The Spokane and Central Valley School Districts say they will offer parents a handful of distance learning options.

Central Valley Superintendent Ben Small said his district made its decision after receiving a recommendation from county Health Officer Bob Lutz.

Help A Taxed Health Care System; Get Your Flu Shot

Aug 3, 2020
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane public health officials are urging people, more than ever this year, to consider getting flu shots this fall.

Dr. Deborah Wiser, the chief clinical officer for the Community Health Association of Spokane, or CHAS, says, on the individual level, flu shots lower the chances that people will contract the flu, and even if they do, they help to lessen the severity.

But this year, Wiser says, flu shots could have another benefit.

Spokane COVID Response

Spokane County has set another one-day record for confirmed Covid cases. The health district reports 146 cases and two more deaths. That makes 14 deaths and 34 new hospitalizations of Spokane County residents over the last week.

Health Officer Bob Lutz doesn’t expect things to change anytime soon.

WSU Covid Tracker Allows Urban, Rural County Comparisons

Jul 30, 2020
WSU College of Medicine

It’s not hard to track coronavirus statistics from around the country. The states of Washington and Idaho and several local health districts make Covid data available on their websites.

But one site created by Washington State University researchers sorts that information so you can compare Covid information from rural and urban areas.

Courtesy of MultiCare

Spokane County has hit a mini-plateau when it comes to new Covid cases. County health officials reported 82 new cases on Wednesday, the fifth consecutive day in the eighties or less.

Health Officer Bob Lutz says the number of hospitalizations continues to inch up, with 63 active cases in Spokane on Wednesday, including 28 from outside the county.

Bloomsday officials announced Wednesday that the 2020 version of the huge road race won’t be held in person. But people who want to participate can still earn and collect one of the fun run’s coveted “finisher” t-shirts.

Greater Spokane Incorporated

Covid has, at times, been a communications professional’s nightmare. There are mixed messages all over the place, about masks, vaccines and other aspects of the virus.

Spokane business groups are developing media campaigns aimed at unifying basic messages and boosting consumer confidence.

Greater Spokane Incorporated

Greater Spokane Incorporated will begin taking applications today [Monday] for its OpenTogether grant program.

The program will allocate $10 million of federal Covid relief money to small businesses and non-profits to help them with their operating costs.

Newport Hospital and Health Services

The coronavirus is hitting the more populous cities in the Inland Northwest, such as Spokane and Coeur d’Alene. But it’s also now stretching the health care systems in northeast Washington and conservative leaders in the region are paying attention.

Inslee Announces A Round Of New Restrictions

Jul 23, 2020

Washington Governor Jay Inslee on Thursday announced new restrictions as the state crossed the 50,000 mark in confirmed coronavirus cases.

“We know that fewer, shorter and safer interactions are absolutely crucial in this fight," the governor said.

Courtesy of Panhandle Health District

The Idaho Panhandle Health Board has voted to enact a mask mandate for Kootenai County.

At the end of a three-hour meeting, which included public testimony, the board voted four-to-two to require people to wear face coverings in public.

Spokane Symphony Postpones 75th Anniversary Season For A Year

Jul 23, 2020
Spokane Symphony

The Spokane Symphony says it is postponing its upcoming 75th anniversary season for a year because of the coronavirus.

The traditional Labor Day weekend concerts at Liberty Lake and Comstock Park have been cancelled. The rest of the season, include masterworks and pops concerts, will be pushed back until the ‘21-’22 season, says executive director Jeff vom Saal.

“While it’s unfortunate to have to wait, I really do feel it’s the right thing," he said.

Gonzaga Summer Debate Tournament Goes Online This Year

Jul 22, 2020
Courtesy of Gonzaga University

Gonzaga’s annual summer debate tournament for middle and high school students began today [Wednesday]. In past years, students have flocked to Spokane to advance their arguments in person. This year it’s different.

WSU College of Medicine

Covid has become fertile ground for health sciences researchers, including those headquartered at Washington State University.

Two faculty members in the WSU College of Medicine have earned new grants for projects related to Covid and cancer.

Professors Ofer Amram and Patrik Johansson have each been awarded $100,000 from the Andy Hill CARE Fund for cancer research in western Washington.

Spokane City Launches Covid Relief Money Survey

Jul 21, 2020
City of Spokane

Spokane city officials today [Tuesday] launched a new survey to ask residents how the city should spend its federal coronavirus relief money.

Mayor Nadine Woodward says the city received $6.6 million in CARES Act money.

Spokane Regional Health District

Another day, another big batch of Covid cases in Spokane.

The health district reported 91 new cases on Monday, on top of 85 on Saturday, 61 on Sunday and 133 on Friday.

Many of the people infected are in the 20-to-40 age range. You can conclude, therefore, that the health district’s message of "wear a mask" and "don’t gather in large groups" isn’t working.

Health officials are trying to find a better way to market to young adults.

Public Health Institute

Spokane public health officials have contracted with an Oakland, California-based company to help epidemiologists here trace a growing number of Covid cases.

Spokane is the fourth Northwest county to hire the Public Health Institute to help with contact tracing.