Regional News

The latest stories from Spokane Public Radio and the Northwest News Network.

Ways to Connect

Rebecca White/SPR

Healthcare providers are raising the alarm as the Inland Northwest hits its highest hospitalization level since the start of the pandemic.

Courtesy of Tyler LeMasters

Two people are suing Spokane City Council candidate Tyler LeMasters, asking a judge to remove him from the November ballot.

They argue he doesn’t meet a key requirement to be eligible to be a city council member, being a resident of his district for a year.

Copyright 2021 Northwest News Network. To see more, visit Northwest News Network.

Rebecca White/SPR

As COVID-19 numbers and hospitalizing continue to soar, Spokane’s top health official is again urging people to get vaccinated.

According to the Spokane Regional Health District, Spokane County had 165 people in the hospital Tuesday and 347 new cases. Spokane County has not seen daily case counts this high since last winter. 

In a briefing Wednesday, Spokane Regional Health District Interim Health Officer Francisco Velazquez said the region’s hospitals are strained.

Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee announced the mandates Wednesday afternoon.

The vaccine requirements extend to public, private, and charter K-12 schools, as well as higher education institutions. Most childcare and early learning providers who serve multiple families will also be included.

People providing family, friend, and neighborhood care are not included in the mandate. The mandate also does not apply to tribal schools, and does not impact any students.

A boundless emerald meadow surrounded by timber is the hidden lowland jewel of a ranch deep in Kootenai County, Idaho.

Owned by the Easterday family, it fronts a wide swath of the upper of two Twin Lakes, where turtles hide and lilypads form a deep band in the cool waters. Upland, from the fringe of the meadow -- cattle heads appear as small toffee-brown and black polka dots, their slick, summer-fat bodies mostly obscured in the deep grass.

Screenshot from TVW

The legal battle over Washington’s new capital gains tax went to a virtual court hearing Wednesday. A judge in Waterville heard a request by the state attorney general’s office to dismiss two challenges to the new law.

Massive Spike In COVID-19 Expected In Idaho This Fall

Aug 17, 2021
Courtesy of State of Idaho

Idaho health officials are bracing for increased Covid cases by fall.

They say the numbers will be as bad, or worse as previous surges.

Spokane County to Recount Votes for Two Primary Races

Aug 17, 2021
Courtesy of Luc Jasmin and Naghmana Sherazi

Two Spokane County races will be recounted next week due to a close margin in a Spokane City Council Race and a tie for second place in the town of Rockford.

The Spokane County election results were verified Tuesday. In the final count Jonathan Bingle came in first in the race for the Northeast Spokane City Council District, and candidate Naghmana Sherazi came in second.

Candidate Luc Jasmin however, was only four votes behind Sherazi, which triggered a recount for that race.

Rebecca White/SPR

Since Dolores DeSantis and her husband were moved to the Spokane area by the Air Force a year ago, they’ve tried to buy a house. They were outbid every time.

After a notice from her landlord last week, many rentals feel out of reach as well.

Her rent is going up by 37%.

Screenshot from City Cable 5

The Spokane City Council voted Monday night to change an agreement to allow the city to study the feasibility of fluoridating the city water supply.

Ford-Corkscrew Fire Forces New Evacuations

Aug 17, 2021
Courtesy of Stevens County Fire District 1

The Ford-Corkscrew fire burning north of Long Lake in Stevens County has grown to nearly 11,000 acres. New evacuations were ordered Monday night in an area closer to the lake, including the area around Tum Tum.

Online Briefings Help People Follow Wildfire Strategy

Aug 16, 2021
Screenshot from Forest Service Facebook briefing

As fire crews battle dozens of wildfires around the Northwest, the public can now follow their progress from the their living rooms. 

You can read online or emailed dispatches from individual fires. Or you can tune in and get an online live briefing.

"The Overall Trend Is Bad": This Is What Covid-19 Is Doing To Idaho Hospitals

Aug 16, 2021
Courtesy of Idaho Capital Sun

(This story was originally published in the Idaho Capital Sun.)

Patients treated in emergency rooms. Small community hospitals calling around for a place to send their critically ill patients. Nurses so burned out that hospitals offer them cash to take extra shifts. And a delta-fueled COVID-19 fire raging out of control from coast to coast.

Bloomsday T-Shirt Design Competition Opens

Aug 16, 2021
Courtesy of Bloomsday

The competition to design the 2022 Bloomsday finishers’ t-shirt is open. For local artists, it’s a chance for them to get their work in front of a whole bunch of people.

Imagine having 30,000 people or more wearing a painting of yours on the front of their torsos, not just on race day, but sometimes for years. That’s a powerful incentive for Spokane-area artists and a reason why so many people submit designs for Bloomsday’s board of directors to consider every year. 

Courtesy of National Weather Service

The region's hot, dry conditions are hampering efforts to put out wildfires. One of those is burning in Stevens County. It started in a building near Ford yesterday afternoon.

How hot is the Pacific Northwest real estate market? So hot that even in an isolated exclave such as Point Roberts, Washington, home prices are sizzling and some properties are changing hands sight unseen.

Washington, Idaho Gain Residents In 2020 Census

Aug 13, 2021
Courtesy of U.S. Census Bureau

New census figures show the population continues to grow in Washington and Idaho and most of their cities and counties. Here's a quick look at the numbers.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The air over much of the Inland Northwest is foul and unhealthy today [Friday]. Weather forecasters expect some improvement by Sunday or Monday. But, between the heat and the smoke, there’s a question of whether people should spend time outside this weekend.

Courtesy of National Park Service

Hundreds of endangered northern leopard frogs have hopped into the only wild place these frogs are found in Washington.

The release last week was an effort to help boost this genetically important population. The frogs are bellwethers for ecosystem health.

The situation at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia is not pretty. You might even say it’s dire.

As of Thursday, the hospital was running at surge capacity – meaning over its normal occupancy limit. There were 41 people in the emergency room awaiting a hospital bed. And 41 of 42 critical care, or intensive care, beds were full. Fourteen of them with COVID-19 patients.

Combined, St. Pete’s and its sister hospital in Centralia are treating 60 COVID patients.

Northwest researchers are looking to the skies to help monitor wildfires as well as spot new ones with a new fire behavior forecasting system. The system uses satellites to help firefighters on the ground.

The views from space have helped map multiple wildfires this year. Satellites use infrared technology to peer through smoke. Data that satellites collect can supplement the often dangerous work traditionally mapped with special sensors on aircraft that fly at night above the flames.

East Of The Cascades Under Air Quality Alert

Aug 12, 2021
Washington State Department of Ecology.

All of Eastern and Central Washington is under an air quality alert due rapidly spreading wildfires fueled by unusually hot and dry conditions.  

Lisa Woodard, the spokeswoman for the Spokane Clean Air Agency, said the alert is in effect until Monday due to worsening conditions.

Sea otters are undeniably cute, but cuteness only goes so far when major economic interests are at stake. That's an inference you can make from the emergence of organized pushback to the possible reintroduction of sea otters along the Oregon Coast.

KTVB screenshot

Idaho Governor Brad Little says his state is sliding backward in its attempt to manage the coronavirus.

“There are signs already that we may be in trouble in the next few days and weeks if we don’t slow things down,” Little told reporters Thursday at Nampa High School.

Quazoo.com

Fairchild Air Force Base is preparing for a Department of Defense mandate requiring service members to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Tom Banse/Northwest News Network

A group of environmental advocates and a Spokane city councilwoman are suing to stop an initiative that would bar city leaders from banning new natural gas hookups. They want to keep it off the ballot.

They argue it would hamper the region’s ability to fight climate change.

Some Covid Costs Still Waived In WA, Others Shared

Aug 11, 2021
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

This week Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler extended two emergency orders that protect consumers from some of the costs of diagnosing the coronavirus. At the same time, he says insurance companies are looking to share Covid-related costs in other ways.

Flickr Creative Commons/Trevor Bexon

It's a good time to enjoy the night sky. The annual Perseid meteor shower is ready to make an appearance. It looks to be one of the best shows in years.

Pacific Northwest salmon could get some help from the federal infrastructure package.

Some of the funding in the U.S. Senate’s version of the bill could help remove barriers to salmon habitat – just not the same barriers on the Snake River that Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, had hoped to eventually include.

The $1 trillion infrastructure package includes $1 billion over a five-year period to help states remove pipes, known as culverts, that allow streams to flow under roadways. Improperly designed culverts can deter salmon from reaching significant portions of their habitat.

Pages