Idaho Public Television

Idaho Governor Brad Little today [Thursday] announced the Gem State will stay where it is in its recovery from the coronavirus.

“Over the past two weeks, Idaho did not meet the criteria to advance past the final stage of the Idaho Rebounds plan. We will remain in stage four for at least another two weeks," the governor said.

State epidemiologist Christine Hahn cited the rise in Covid cases in Idaho over the last two weeks.

Missy Nadvornick

Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz is looking for 80% of county residents to wear masks as they’re out and about. That, he says, is the minimum needed to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Right now, his rough guess is that about 65% of people are masking up.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

One more Spokane insititution is re-emerging from a coronavirus-induced postponement. The city’s community court will reopen Monday and resume its two-day-a-week schedule.

Idaho Initiative Debate Plays Out In Federal Court

Jun 28, 2020
Courtesy of Reclaim Idaho

The state of Idaho is asking a federal court judge to reconsider a ruling he made last Tuesday. It’s related to an initiative campaign that was suspended in March due to the coronavirus. Its sponsors want time this summer to gather more signatures and qualify its school funding measure for the November ballot.

Washington Emergency Management Department

With masks becoming mandatory in Washington today [Friday], the challenge for state and county officials is to get people to comply with Governor Jay Inslee’s order.

The governor walks the talk. He wore a dark blue mask during a press conference in Spokane on Thursday. But sometimes it takes someone with a new voice on the issue to get the message across.

State of Washington

UPDATE: Saturday 2:15 pm:

Washington Governor Jay Inslee says, due to the spread of Covid-19 in some parts of the state, he has ordered a pause in the process of moving counties in phase three of the coronavirus progression to phase four.

Eight rural counties are eligible to move to phase four, but Inslee says, due to the ability of people to move from county to county, that this is not a good time to allow counties to remove all Covid-related restrictions.

The number of Covid-related hospitalizations in Spokane County continues to inch up.

Today [Thursday], Health Officer Bob Lutz reported 30 people are receiving care, up two from Wednesday. Eighteen of them are Spokane County residents, up three from Wednesday. Ten are in intensive care.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane County will soon distribute face coverings to local non-profits to distribute to individuals whose income is 200% or less of the federal poverty level. Simone Ramel-McKay from the emergency management division says her office expects to receive about 320,000 masks next month.

Video shot from Spokane Regional Health District

Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz says he doesn’t believe social justice protests have contributed much to the consistent rise in the number of Covid cases in the county.

During a media briefing Wednesday, Lutz said tracers have been able to tie five confirmed cases to the initial protest on May 31.

U.S. Justice Department

A federal judge in Boise today [Tuesday] ruled in favor of an initiative campaign that wants to require the state to devote more money to public schools.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

One of the challenges for businesses during this Covid pandemic is finding enough hygiene products to keep workplaces and employees clean and safe.

Greater Spokane has pulled together a collection of personal protective equipment that it will distribute to small businesses next week.

Washington Department of Social and Health Services

Washington state social service officials say they will soon offer food benefits to families whose children have missed out on free school lunches this spring.

The program is called Pandemic-EBT, or electronic benefit transfer. It’s a federal program adminstered by states.

Spokane Now Two Confirmed Covid Cases Short of 1,000

Jun 22, 2020
Spokane COVID Response

Spokane County is now two confirmed Covid cases away from a thousand, with 22 new cases reported today [Monday] and 157 during the last seven days.

Spokane’s consistent increases come at a time when some elected officials, particularly the three county commissioners, are pushing the health officer to move forward in the process toward phase three.

Providence Supports Staying At Phase Two For Now

Jun 19, 2020
Providence Health and Services

Providence Health Care has issued a statement in support of Spokane County staying at phase two of Washington’s reopening protocol.

Providence said it supports the decision by the Regional Health District and Health Officer Bob Lutz to stay at level two for now.

Spokane Coalition To Host Juneteenth Event Friday Evening

Jun 19, 2020
Inland Northwest Juneteenth Coalition

African-Americans and others are celebrating Juneteenth today [Friday]. It’s the 155th anniversary of the date in which Black slaves in the former Confederate states were freed.

In Spokane, the Inland Northwest Juneteenth Coalition is sponsoring what it’s calling a virtual celebration and conversation.

Washington Department of Corrections

Is Spokane County ready to move to the next phase of Washington’s coronavirus reopening protocol? County commissioners and Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward say yes. Health Officer Bob Lutz is skeptical. 

Lutz cites the doubling of the number of confirmed cases since the Memorial Day weekend. But he’s also worried about another factor.

Courtesy of MultiCare

Spokane County health officials say a new public Covid testing site will open to the public tomorrow [Friday] in Airway Heights. Health Office Bob Lutz says it replaces the public drive-through site at the county Fairgrounds that closed a few weeks ago.

Spokane County Commissioners Push To Move To Level Three

Jun 17, 2020
Spokane County Commissioners

Spokane County’s commissioners today formally asked Health Officer Bob Lutz to initiate the process to move the county to level three of the state’s reopening plan.

In the letter signed by all three commissioners, the trio say they believe the "clear majority" of hospitals and businesses are ready to move to phase three. They say those companies are following the strict sanitary and spacing guidelines needed to keep their customers safe.

Washington Department of Health



The state of Washington has opened a new statewide toll-free telephone hotline for people who are struggling during the Covid pandemic.

One of the partners is Spokane’s Frontier Behavioral Health, where Kelli Miller is chief administrative officer.

Spokane COVID Response

Spokane County reported nine more confirmed Covid cases on Monday, pushing the total to 842.

Health Officer Bob Lutz attributed part of that today [Monday] to more testing. He says providers around the county have tested about 6,000 people in the three weeks since Memorial Day, compared to about 4,000 in the preceding three weeks.

Lutz says there’s one new trend.

Spokane COVID Response

UPDATED: Monday 3 pm

Spokane County added nine new Covid cases on Monday. That, added to 31 reported over the weekend, continues the steady increase in confirmed cases since the county moved to phase two of the state’s reopening strategy. The official count is now 842.

The trend in Spokane has caught the attention of the Washington Department of Health.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Washington’s state school superintendent say students are going back to school this fall. On Thursday, Chris Reykdal announced his coronavirus advice for school districts.

Later in the day, the Community Colleges of Spokane became the latest institution of higher education to announce that they, too, will welcome students back to the classroom this fall.

Covid has greatly complicated the process of teaching students and keeping them safe.

Photo Heather Keen

The Coeur d'Alene Tribe is making a special effort to keep its elders safe from the Covid virus. 


The tribe's Older Americans Program is working in conjunction with its Miramn Health Clinic to provide special Covid Safety Packs to tribal members older than age 55.

Idaho To Move To Phase 4 Reopening On Saturday

Jun 11, 2020
State of Idaho

Idaho Governor Brad Little has announced his state will move to the final phase of its reopening strategy, beginning Saturday.

“One hundred percent of businesses will be able to open their doors as we enter stage four of our Idaho Rebounds plan."

Wildfire Crews Adjust Training Because Of Covid

Jun 10, 2020
Washington Department of Natural Resources

Covid has had at least some effect on wildfire training in eastern Washington this spring.

In Fire District 9 in north Spokane County, firefighters are getting their wildfire refresher courses via video, rather than the usual in person classes. But there’s only so much you can do by watching a screen, says Chief Jack Cates.

Washington Department of Natural Resources

A U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee on Tuesday asked federal lands officials about the nation’s readiness for wildfire season.

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) warned that, with the calendar moving to mid-June, there isn’t much time left to prepare.

“The National Interagency Fire Center issued the wildland potential outlook for the fire season and, for the state of Washington and, I would say, the whole Pacific Northwest, we are in the bullseye of what is likely to be a very challenging fire season,” Cantwell said.

Reclaim Idaho

An Idaho group that hopes to put a public school funding initiative on the November ballot is asking a federal judge for extra time to collect signatures.

“What we’re calling for is an extension of the deadline for collecting ballot initiative signatures and also for the permission to collect signatures online," said Reclaim Idaho's Luke Mayville.

Masks Now Required At Washington Workplaces

Jun 9, 2020
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

A new rule requiring employees in Washington to wear masks in the workplace took effect today.

“It’s stratified by going from essentially very low risk to high risk," said Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz at a media briefing.

Spokane COVID Response/City of Spokane

The counties surrounding Spokane have again moved a level ahead in the state’s coronavirus reopening protocol.

Whitman was the latest to move to level three on Saturday. Spokane is eligible on Friday to apply for level three. But County Health Officer Bob Lutz says Spokane isn’t ready yet.

WSU Health Sciences

The Covid epidemic has left its mark on Washington State University’s health research portfolio. Researchers in the infant and maternal health field have adjusted their projects to explore the effects of the rapidly changing realities.

Celestina Barbosa-Leiker says, when the coronavirus epidemic hit, many of WSU’s infant and child researchers realized that new mothers and pregnant women are bearing an unusual amount of stress.