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Spokane Property Tax Deadline Extended

13 hours ago
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane County taxpayers are getting some extra time to pay their property taxes this spring.

The county’s chief deputy treasurer, Mike Volz, says the April 30 deadline has been pushed back to June 15.

Rent is due this week. But with stay-home orders in both Washington and Idaho, shuttered businesses and a troubled economy, some people wonder if they’ll get evicted if they don’t pay.

In Washington, a moratorium on evictions gives protection to renters hit hard by the COVID outbreak. Idaho has no such moratorium, but a recent court order may protect them.


-Idaho coronavirus page (with number of cases and emergency orders)

Idaho's Primary Election Won't Be Postponed

18 hours ago
Idaho Secretary of State

Idaho’s May 19 primary election will not move to a different date, but it will be conducted differently.

The governor’s office today [Monday] announced the election will be all vote-by-mail. He issued a statement saying it became clear the state wouldn’t have access to enough polling places and workers to make voting at the polls possible.

NOTE: This story is a collaboration between the public media Northwest News Network, Spokane Public Radio, Northwest Public Broadcasting and the Spokesman-Review

Two weeks before Spokane went on lockdown, the news was the disease wouldn’t come here.

The newspaper told its readers that “there is no reason to be greatly alarmed” because the “imported type” of viral infection was “not available” here.

The city’s public health officer offered soothing words.

Jesse Tinsley/Spokesman-Review

Two weeks before Spokane went on lockdown, the news was the disease wouldn’t come here.

The newspaper told its readers that “there is no reason to be greatly alarmed” because the “imported type” of viral infection was “not available” here.

The city’s public health officer offered soothing words.

“If Spokane people will sneeze in their handkerchiefs and turn their heads the ‘other’ way when they cough, there is but a remote chance that the city will be attacked,” he told the paper.

They were wrong.

Spokane Transit has suspended bus fares temporarily while the county deals with restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus.

The agency’s ridership is way down in this ‘stay-at-home’ time. Passenger numbers are about a third of normal. The number of people riding the paratransit vans is one-fifth of normal.

QUICK LINK: Info On Washington Adult Litter Crews

Students hoping to work with the Washington Department of Ecology this summer will have to put their plans on hold until next year. The news may be frustrating to students, but it comes as statewide unemployment claims have seen an unprecedented spike.

In these times of uncertainty and upheaval amidst a global pandemic, Dr. Jessica Van Fleet-Green had reason to celebrate recently.

After three weeks of wearing the same N95 mask on her rounds at ManorCare of Lacey, a 120-bed nursing home near Olympia where she’s the medical director, she had managed to acquire a new mask.

“[F]eeling fresh as a daisy in a brand new stylish mask that was donated!” Van Fleet-Green wrote in an Instagram post featuring a photo of herself in the mask.

When Washington Gov. Jay Inslee made it clear that his statewide “stay-at-home” order applies to most commercial and residential construction, staff at the PaintSmith Company in Yakima and Seattle had no choice.

“We made a lot of calls last night to lay off a lot of people,” said Justin Smith, who runs the company founded by his father, Robert Smith, in 1973.

Fairchild Airman Writes COVID-19 Book For Children

Mar 27, 2020
Courtesy of Adam Wallace

Many of us are trying to adjust to our lives in the coronavirus era. Adam Wallace is thinking about how it affects children. Wallace is in the Air Force, stationed at Fairchild. He’s working toward a master’s degree in public health with an eye on medical school in the future. Wallace has been working from home lately and he’s had a little extra time. So during the last couple of weeks, he’s written a children’s book about COVID-19.

Spokane County

Spokane emergency management officials are working through the details of creating an emergency health care facility at the Fairgrounds.

County health officer Bob Lutz says one of the goals is to find a safe place to house patients with non-urgent conditions so that hospital beds can be saved for a potential surge in coronavirus cases.

Mirroring the national trend, Washington and Oregon are experiencing an unprecedented spike in unemployment claims caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the last week, 133,464 Washingtonians and 76,500 Oregonians filed first-time claims for unemployment benefits. In Oregon, that represents a 15-fold increase in claims from the previous week. In Washington, the increase was more than eight-fold.

Courtesy of Adam Wallace

Today on Inland Journal and the Inland Journal podcast, the states of Washington and Idaho are now both in ‘stay-at-home mode.’ Spokane County officials stay consistent with the “social distancing” message, but not everyone is listening. An employee at Fairchild Air Force Base tries to explain the coronavirus and its ripples in a new book for children. And we’ll hear about life in an Idaho household where Dad has the virus and the rest of the family is trying to avoid it. Those stories and we’ll ask you about your new coronavirus rituals today on Inland Journal, after the news.

Amid a widespread shutdown of athletic events, Washington state has become the 21st state to legalize betting on sports. Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday signed legislation to authorize sports wagers in tribal casinos only.

It will be months before sports fans can bet money on games though, because first the tribes have to negotiate regulatory agreements with the state. And of course, sports leagues have to start up again.

Idaho Governor Issues Statewide Stay-At-Home Order

Mar 25, 2020
Idaho Governor's office

Idaho Governor Brad Little has issued an order requiring his state’s residents to stay-home whenever possible.

The governor also signed what his office calls an “extreme emergency declaration.”

Spokane COVID Response

Spokane city officials expect to add — by early next week — a new temporary facility to the inventory of shelters available to people who are homeless. It’s one of two measures that will be taken to provide help for sick people with few resources.

Mayor Nadine Woodward announced today [Wednesday] that the city is configuring its soon-to-be-renovated downtown library into a place that can house at least 100 people. This is intended to provide more physical space between people in the shelters.

You’ll have to put off your favorite hike on Washington public lands for at least two weeks. State-managed parks and wildlife areas are closing starting Wednesday, March 25.

The Department of Natural Resources is closing all public lands it manages starting Thursday, March 26.

Closing state campgrounds was the first step. But over the weekend, crowds continued to gather at popular hiking spots – not taking note of six-foot social distancing guidelines to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Advocates for people incarcerated in Washington prisons have filed a petition with the state Supreme Court seeking the immediate release of some inmates to reduce the risk of a coronavirus outbreak behind bars.

Spokane COVID Response

Spokane elected officials are urging residents to obey the rules set out by Governor Jay Inslee and ‘stay at home’ if at all possible.

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich and others held a press briefing this [Tuesday] morning, in which they presented a unified front in favor of physical distancing strategies to combat the coronavirus.

Spokane COVID Response

Spokane elected officials say they support Governor Jay Inslee's decision to require Washington residents to stay at home as much as possible.

Inslee issued a stay-at-home order Monday evening, requiring people to hunker down at home for at least the next two weeks.

Following the lead of California and several other states and local communities, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday evening announced an immediate statewide "stay-at-home" order that will last for at least two weeks. It requires all residents of Washington to remain at home unless they are conducting essential business or taking a break for some fresh air.

An inventive TV producer could script a complete game show with all of the unusual or borderline situations that Census Bureau workers may encounter while carrying out the once a decade national headcount. Then on top of it all, the current coronavirus outbreak introduced a plot twist that has delayed some 2020 Census training and field operations.

Yet, the census count is now underway in the Pacific Northwest. You might have recently received a letter with an invitation to complete the census online or by phone. Census takers were to follow up beginning in April with people who didn't get a mailing or ignored it, but that operation has been pushed back to launch in May, in part to protect the health and safety of census takers.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

One of the main players in Spokane County’s coronavirus response is Health Officer Bob Lutz. Lutz is the person who usually decides whether public gatherings should be curtailed or schools should be closed. I say usually because, in the case of closing schools, he was pre-empted by the governor. Lutz wasn’t ready to recommend school closures in the county.

Lutz says the challenge with this coronavirus situation has been the messaging to the public.

Spokane's Center For Justice To Close Tuesday

Mar 22, 2020
Center for Justice

Spokane’s non-profit Center for Justice closes its doors tomorrow [Tuesday]. The center was founded more than 20 years ago by former Spokane County public defender Jim Sheehan to represent people who are treated wrongly by the legal system.

Shall I Be Tested For The Coronavirus?

Mar 22, 2020
Spokane Regional Health District

The Spokane Regional Health District has created a graphic that gives guidance to those who wonder whether they should be tested for the coronavirus.

As the state of Washington’s epidemiologist for communicable diseases, Dr. Scott Lindquist’s job is to study and try to control the spread of disease.

But these days he’s operating more like a logistics officer in the military. His phone is blowing up with calls from local public health officials on the frontlines of the battle against coronavirus. They’re asking for help in procuring the personal protective equipment (PPE) that healthcare workers need to test and treat patients.

Courtesy of Salvation Army

What happens to entities that are in the hospitality business when they have to turn people away because of the coronavirus?

We’ve learned that many restaurants, for example, have adapted by offering take-out and delivery services. Others have closed.

At Spokane’s Salvation Army, Major Ken Perine says he’s had to restrict access to the programs offered on its campus.

In February, immigration agents arrested a man the federal government says is a danger to his community of Twisp in Washington’s Methow Valley. 

That same community fought to get their neighbor back. 

Francisco Morales is well known in Twisp and neighboring Winthrop as a charming, outgoing waiter in most of the area’s restaurants. About 1,500 people live in the two tourist-heavy towns known for their recreation and, in Winthrop’s case, Old West theme. 

Going to any restaurant here means potentially running into Francisco. 

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said he wants to avoid imposing a statewide shelter-in-place order, as governors in California and elsewhere have done recently. But he said this will necessitate further voluntary reductions in social interactions by Washingtonians.

The Democratic governor used an unusually stern tone in a media briefing from his office at the state Capitol late Friday, saying "some progress" has been made to slow the coronavirus outbreak, but that "we have not done enough."