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Gov. Jay Inslee's "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order will not be extended past May 31. Instead, state officials will use a phased plan to govern county-by-county reopening permissions.

Each county must apply with the state Department of Health and receive approval before moving to the next phase of reopening.

When Washington's stay home order expires on June 1, each county will be required to adhere to social distancing rules corresponding to its current reopening status.

When Mordecai Cochrane was found passed out behind the wheel of his Toyota Avalon by Spokane police in the dead of night, he’d been tested for coronavirus the day before, but was waiting for results. 

Five days later, he was back behind the wheel, driving at night with his lights off and with too many people in the car. Cochrane again encountered police. This time he had his test results. He’d tested positive, had no symptoms and was contagious. 

A Cessna commuter plane retrofitted in Washington state has taken the crown of biggest all-electric airplane now flying. Redmond, Washington-based electric motor maker MagniX teamed up with flight testing contractor AeroTEC to convert a 10-passenger, single engine Cessna 208B Grand Caravan to fly on battery power.

Spokane Reports 30 New Covid Cases On Friday

14 hours ago
Spokane COVID Response

Thirty new Covid cases were reported in Spokane County on Friday. It’s the single largest number of confirmed cases since an outbreak began at a pasta factory in northeast Spokane.

He says at least 20 of those cases are associated with outbreaks that already known to contact tracers.

Spokane Records 14 More Coronavirus Cases On Thursday

May 28, 2020
Spokane COVID Response/City of Spokane

Spokane health officials announced 14 more confirmed coronavirus cases on Thursday. That brings the total count to 540 with 31 fatalities.

It’s the seventh time in the last eight days that the county has registered at least 10 new cases.

Residents of Chelan and Douglas counties have filed lawsuits against Gov. Jay Inslee, demanding an injunction on his emergency measures to address coronavirus in Washington.

Both suits mirror each other, but Thursday in Wenatchee was the first chance attorneys had to argue the necessity of the order. 

Attorneys argued for about an hour in a virtual Chelan County Superior Court room over whether the case against the governor’s order should be moved to Thurston County, where it was enacted. 

A nearly 100-year-old historical marker has been mysteriously stolen from Washington's Capitol Campus and, with no leads on who took it, the state patrol is now asking the public for help solving the crime. 

The bronze plaque commemorated the location of the home of Washington's first territorial governor, Isaac Ingalls Stevens. Washington's first post-statehood governor, Elisha P. Ferry, also lived there when he served as a territorial governor. 

When Marcus Aaron Luke runs fast, everything feels slow. 

“You feel every small step,” he says. “You feel every small detail.”

But in the pandemic year of 2020, he’s missed a lot of important details of his last year of high school.

Luke was a leader on his varsity track team, and also as a senior at Pendleton High School in northeastern Oregon. He missed his much-anticipated senior track season. Now bigger and stronger, he was ready to push his times down even more. 

He’s missed more than two months of classes.  

State of Idaho

 

Idaho Governor Brad Little today [Thursday] announced his state is ready to move on to the next phase of its coronavirus reopening plan, beginning Saturday.

“Gatherings of up to 50 people can occur where appropriate physical distancing and precautionary measures are observed," Little said.

Spokane Religion News Service Moves Ahead In Covid World

May 28, 2020
Spokane FAVS

On Wednesday, Washington Governor Jay Inslee released guidelines for how churches can convene their congregations in person while maintaining physical distancing. Many have turned to video as their main tool for sharing worship services.

Same strategy for Spokane Faith and Values, a news service that focuses on religion in the community. It’s taking advantage of federal coronavirus relief money to keep itself going.

Historic Dayton Theatre Hopes For Summer Reopening

May 27, 2020
Courtesy of Liberty Theatre

The lights have dimmed for a couple of months at the historic Liberty Theatre in Dayton, Washington, due to the coronavirus. But its manager has plans to reopen the doors this summer.

The story of the theatre is similar to that of many other small-town art houses, says manager Mike Ferrians.

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.

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.

At the request of a powerful Democratic state senator who warned of “foreign intrusion,” Washington’s Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) on Sunday temporarily suspended public, online access to the personal financial statements of elected officials, candidates and other public officials.

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.

Spokane COVID Response

UPDATE: Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz reports 23 new cases on Wednesday and more than 100 in the last week. No new deaths and eight people are current hospitalized.

Spokane County is now at 526 confirmed Covid cases.

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.

Humanities Washington

Federal coronavirus aid has helped hundreds of Northwest businesses. But some of it is also being funneled to non-profit arts and humanities organizations that have had to postpone events.

Humanities Washington is the organization in the Evergreen State that distributes money from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The county-by-county reopening of Washington state is picking up steam. The state Secretary of Health on Friday approved four additional places where closed businesses can now restart immediately if they have safety plans in place. At least a half-dozen more counties -- backed by antsy business communities -- are queuing up close behind.

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].

Just as a farmer’s fruit should be turning juicy and sweet, an old foe called “little cherry disease” robs the harvest. 

From The Dalles, Oregon to Brewster, Washington, Northwest cherry growers are checking their orchards now, just before harvest. Infected trees have to be cut down. And the disease can spread like wildfire from tree to tree until an entire orchard is just stumps. 

Small, pale, bland and bitter

If you decide to go for a hike this weekend, be safe and responsible – that’s the message state and federal officials are giving to recreationalists. For other counties trying to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases in their borders, the message is: don’t come here.

You don’t have to stay home, just follow your county’s travel guidelines, says Kittitas County public information officer Kasey Knutson. Sometimes that means you shouldn’t travel, like to Kittitas County.

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.

Just as the sun rises over the Yakima Valley on May 14, more than 100 workers drive their vehicles off Monson Fruit property in Selah, north of Yakima. They’re walking off the job because they’re angry and afraid. 

Striking Monson workers say they were told by management that at least seven employees have tested positive for COVID-19 and they worry their employer isn’t doing enough to protect them.

“Nosotros claro que queremos trabajar. Necesitamos el trabajo. Por eso estamos aqui. Pero queremos condiciones laborales bien.”

Spokane Council Takes Two Steps Related To Climate Change

May 21, 2020
Global Covenant of Mayors

The Spokane City Council this week took steps not related to the virus. It approved two resolutions related to climate change.

In one, Council President Breean Beggs says the council voted to rejoin a group of more than 1,700 local governments that are working on sustainability issues.

Saying that it’s time for the legislative branch to “intervene” in the state’s COVID-19 response, Republican leaders in the Washington Legislature on Thursday called for a special session of the Legislature to begin in June.

While Gov. Jay Inslee and majority Democrats in the Legislature have said a special session is likely sometime this year, they have not yet committed to a specific date.

Abbott

One of the challenges for Washington as it emerges from Covid-related restrictions is finding enough equipment to test people for the virus. State officials say more testing is needed to be able to track the spread.

How’s that going?

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