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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.

A firefighter who helped put out a recent wildfire in north-central Washington has been diagnosed with COVID-19. It’s the third state Department of Natural Resources firefighter diagnosis this fire season. 

In response, land managers are asking people to avoid starting fires to help keep crews safe.

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. 

Near Walla Walla, Washington, off U.S. Highway 12, stacks of baled straw are plunked down in jagged rows. They cut boxy midday shadows amid the crew-cut stubble. It’s harvest time.

Driving through Mattawa July 29, onlookers witnessed a seemingly jovial scene that sounded like a block party. But among the gritos of the mariachi and the dancing residents of Mattawa, they heard expressions of anger and frustration. 

It’s a labor demonstration. And a political one.

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.

In early June, as Gov. Jay Inslee was overseeing a phased reopening of the state, his budget office signed a contract with the elite international consulting firm McKinsey & Company to provide access to a “Governor’s Decision Support Tool.” That tool was meant to aid Inslee’s decision-making as he gradually unlocked the economy.

But access to McKinsey’s customized COVID-19 risk tool didn’t come cheap. Under the contract, the state initially agreed to pay for eight weeks of access to McKinsey’s services and proprietary data sets. The cost to taxpayers: $165,000 per week. And that was McKinsey’s government discount rate.

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."

Courtesy of Peter Davenport

If you've ever reported seeing something unusual in the sky, chances are the news eventually reached the national tracking center for unidentified flying objects. That center is located in eastern Washington.

The man who directs it, Peter Davenport, has had a lifelong interest in UFOs since first seeing one during a family outing at a drive-in theater in 1954.

Spokane Covid Notes

Aug 7, 2020
Spokane COVID Response

Spokane public health officials reported 53 new coronavirus cases on Friday. It’s the sixth day out of the last seven that the case count was 75 or fewer. And it was less than a third of Thursday’s record of 170 new cases.

Health Officer Bob Lutz says the Thursday count appears to be an outlier in the recent trend.

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.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The police reform discussion in Spokane is about to ramp up.

Spokane city officials on Thursday announced they’re ready to begin a community-wide dialogue on policing. They say that will include, at a minimum, the mayor and city council, police leadership and social justice advocates.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced new regulations Thursday for long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes, that give families better visiting options. These facilities, where people with vulnerable conditions reside, were put on lockdown as the pandemic began to spike this past spring.

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.

 

Walking into the vast B Reactor chamber at the Hanford Site, Tri-Cities musician Denin Koch felt the pull of history and innovation.

TVW

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 Sheriff's Department

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Department and Spokane chapter of the NAACP have announced their agreement to study racial disparities in arrests in the county.

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, Spokane NAACP President Kurtis Robinson and Spokane NAACP Vice President Kiantha Duncan explained the project at a news conference on Wednesday.

Spokane County Fire District 10

Two Spokane County fire levies that were on Tuesday's primary election ballot are passing.

 

In Spokane County Fire District 10, a 10-year levy focused on medical services is passing handily, 66-to-32%.

Courtesy of Mary Kuney

Much of the attention for Tuesday’s primary election in Washington has gone to the nine statewide races. But the election also helped counties around the state narrow the fields for local county commission races.

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.

Courtesy of Mike Padden

It’s good to be an incumbent if you’re a state legislator in the Spokane area. Incumbents in the Third, Sixth, Seventh and Ninth Districts all advanced beyond Tuesday’s primary election to the November general election.

That also extends to the Fourth District Senate race, where the longtime incumbent, Republican Mike Padden, won a strong majority in a three-way race.

McMorris Rodgers Wins Primary Election Race

Aug 5, 2020
Jeremy Burnham

Washington U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers has taken another step toward serving a ninth term.

She cruised to a big lead in her race against four candidates, winning about half the vote. Her apparent opponent will be Democrat Dave Wilson.

Courtesy of Lori Feagan

In legislative races, two Democrats made a strong showing in Spokane Valley.

Democrats Lori Feagan and Lance Gurel lead four-way races with Republicans.

Feagan took 40% of the early vote in a race for the seat that Rep. Matt Shea now holds.

Spokane County Primary Election Results

Aug 4, 2020
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Here are the results from Spokane County, eastern Washington county, legislative and congressional races after the first night's release of ballots.

Here are the statewide results from the Washington Secretary of State's office.

Okanogan County is eastern Washington’s latest area of concern for COVID-19 cases.

Eight people, at least two of them foreign H-2A farmworkers, have died in the county. That’s considered a lot for the geographically large yet relatively sparsely populated county of about 42,000 people.

The recovery in airline travel seems to have hit a plateau in recent weeks, according to Transportation Security Administration checkpoint screening numbers. With the end of coronavirus pandemic seemingly beyond the horizon, the near future is turning grim for workers in the airline and airports sector.

Multiple airport tenants in Seattle and Portland issued layoff notices in the past week. But in a possible sign of optimism over the long term, the Pacific Northwest's major airport operators, the ports of Seattle and Portland, are continuing with big budget construction projects.

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