Spokane Regional Health District

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane public health officials say a Covid mass vaccination site at the Spokane Arena could be up and running by next Monday.

Last Monday, Governor Jay Inslee announced the arena would be one of a handful of sites outside the Seattle metro area that would open to vaccinate large numbers of people.

TVW screenshot

The group of Western scientists that reviews Covid vaccine decisions made by the Food and Drug Administration has approved the new Moderna vaccine.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced Sunday the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup has voted unanimously to put this second vaccine on the market.

Inslee’s office says the governor expects the first doses of the Moderna vaccine to begin arriving in Olympia this week.

Screenshot from Spokane Regional Health District


Spokane County experienced one of its lowest daily coronavirus counts in weeks on Wednesday, 131 cases. That puts the county at an even 22,000 positive tests for the pandemic.

Interim Health Officer Frank Velazquez says it’s one small positive sign in a Covid horizon that’s beginning to look a bit brighter.

Courtesy of Gilead

The Pfizer coronavirus vaccine is in different phases of distribution around the Northwest.

Providence reports it has received almost 4,000 doses. Spokeswoman Beth Hegde says the health system’s highest risk caregivers will be inoculated with it on Friday.

Screenshot from Spokane Regional Health District

The Spokane County Board of Health today [Thursday] unanimously appointed Dr. Frank Velazquez as the interim health officer.

Velazquez was chosen about four weeks ago to fill in after the former health officer, Bob Lutz, was fired. Velazquez has agreed to stay on the job until a permanent replacement can be found.

Courtesy of Providence Health Care

Providence Health Care says it’s postponing some elective surgeries to preserve resources in case they’re needed to treat Covid patients.

The provider says it is making this move to make sure it has the capacity to care for all patients, not just those with the coronavirus.

Washington Adds Covid Contact Tracers, Adjusts Protocols

Nov 26, 2020
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

On Wednesday, Washington state health officials announced they’re planning to hire 350 more Covid case investigators and contact tracers. The goal is to have them ready within a few weeks if the state experiences another surge of cases sometime this winter.

But there’s also a shift in strategy.

Spokane COVID Response

Spokane County broke the 500 mark in new Covid cases for the first time on Monday.

The weekend numbers started innocently enough with the Spokane Regional Health District recording 146 new cases on Saturday. But then Sunday brought 368 cases, the third highest mark of the pandemic, 514 cases for the two days. And then, Monday nearly matched it, 513 new cases.

Courtesy of Lucira

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first at-home Covid-19 test. That means, if you’re not showing symptoms of the virus, you won’t need a doctor’s permission or go to a clinic to get a test. You can administer it yourself and get a relatively quick answer. But the test is not cheap and not necessarily easy to procure.

There’s also the question of whether those who take the test will report the result to health authorities.

Courtesy of Spokane Regional Health District

Spokane County registered another 216 new Covid infections on Thursday, the second-highest mark of the pandemic.

With that as the backdrop, new interim Spokane County Health Officer Francisco Velazquez is encouraging people to take the same measures that his predecessor did: wear masks when around others and keep your physical distance when possible.

Covid Numbers Continue High In Inland Northwest

Nov 10, 2020
Spokane COVID Response

The Covid pressures continue in Spokane County and north Idaho.

The Panhandle Health District reported 177 new cases on Tuesday. That makes 361 cases over the last two days.

Spokane County had a bit of a reprieve, relatively speaking, 137 cases reported Tuesday, the lowest mark since at least Thursday.

Spokane County Shatters Covid Record

Nov 9, 2020
Spokane COVID Response

Spokane County’s Covid situation jumped from worrisome to something much worse over the weekend.

The Spokane Regional Health District reported 712 cases for the last three days, including the weekend. That included 202 new cases reported for Monday, which would have been a one-day record, overturning the previous mark set on Thursday.

Screenshot of Stuckart complaint

Former Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart and others have filed a complaint with the Washington State Board of Health. They want the board to investigate the process the Spokane Regional Health District used to remove Health Officer Bob Lutz from his job.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Thursday evening’s firing of Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz brought an immediate response from Lutz supporters.

That includes the union that represents more than 120 Spokane Regional Health District employees. It issued a statement of no-confidence in Administrative Officer Amelia Clark.

“It’s not just about Dr. Lutz at this point," said health district epidemiologist Erin Whitehead, a member of the union.

Screenshot from Spokane County Health Board meeting


The Spokane County health board has fired Health Officer Bob Lutz, the man who has been the face of the county’s battle against the coronavirus since March.

The eight-to-four vote came after a four-hour proceeding, during which Adminstrative Officer Amelia Clark listed a detailed list of actions that she says warranted Lutz’s removal.

Courtesy of the University of Washington

The Spokane County Board of Health will decide the fate of Health Officer Bob Lutz during a special meeting this afternoon [Thursday].

Setting aside the specifics of the case, one Spokane doctor who has done the job Lutz holds says a pandemic is the wrong time to make this change.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The Spokane County Board of Health has set a Thursday, 3 pm meeting to discuss the status of Health Officer Bob Lutz.

The meeting agenda includes several items, including opportunities for Administrative Officer Amelia Clark and Lutz to make presentations (half-hour each). It also lists three "potential action items," including the removal of Lutz as health officer and a replacement for that position.

Screening For Covid In A Spokane Shelter

Nov 2, 2020
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Despite the uncertainty over who is currently the health officer at the agency, Spokane Regional Health District employees continue to do their jobs. That includes monitoring the health of people who stay at Spokane’s homeless shelters.

Former Spokane Health Officer Says He Was Fired

Nov 2, 2020
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Former Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz has issued a second statement (see full version below), rebutting some statements made by the Spokane Regional Health District.

Lutz is the Spokane County health officer whose employment is in limbo after the district’s administrative officer told her health board she wants to remove him from his job.


Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Bob Lutz’s future is in doubt as health officer for the Spokane Regional Health District. The district’s administrative officer has asked him to resign, citing only vague reasons related to job performance.

But Lutz has supporters and many of them showed up at a Sunday afternoon rally outside the health district building.

Spokane Regional Health District

Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz released a statement on Saturday saying he has not resigned and has hired attorney Bryce Wilcox to represent him.

What People Are Saying About SRHD/Lutz Situation

Oct 30, 2020
Washington State Medical Association

A wide variety of interests have weighed in on news that the head of the Spokane Regional Health District has asked Health Officer Bob Lutz to resign.

Spokane Regional Health District

UPDATE: 4:45 pm to include letter of support from school superintendents in Educational Service District 101 (see below)

Spokane Regional Health District spokeswoman Kelli Hawkins says the Board of Health has not scheduled a meeting for this afternoon to discuss the Lutz situation. That would require public notification. She says she will provide an update before the end of the day.

The Spokane Regional Health District's administrative officer has reportedly asked Health Officer Bob Lutz to resign. Amelia Clark addressed reporters during a press conference Friday morning.

Kootenai Health

Spokane and north Idaho have moved into new territory when it comes to the number of people hospitalized for the coronavirus.

Call it a triple dose of triple digits.

Contact Tracers Stressed During Spokane Covid Surge

Oct 15, 2020
Spokane COVID Response

Another triple digit day for new Spokane Covid cases.

The health district today [Thursday] reported 133 new positive tests. It’s the second consecutive day of triple digit cases and a tie for the fourth-highest number of cases in a single day.

Health Officer Bob Lutz says the surge, now about four weeks into it, is putting a lot of pressure on the health district’s contract tracing teams.

Spokane COVID Response

Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz says he may reimpose new restrictions due to increases in the county’s number of daily cases.

Today [Wednesday], the health district reported 122 new cases. It’s the seventh day in the last three weeks in which new case numbers hit triple digits. During that time, the case levels have been similar to days in July and August, the peak of the county’s pandemic era.


Spokane Regional Health District

Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz is letting people know the county may be close to reimposing Covid restrictions.

On Thursday, the health district reported 138 new positive tests, the third-highest mark since the outbreak began. Today [Friday], the district reported 94 cases.

Lutz released a statement Friday that he termed a ‘Come to Jesus’ message.

Recent Spokane Covid Increase Driven By Young People

Sep 28, 2020
Spokane COVID Response

After three days of triple digit new Covid cases in Spokane, the weekend and Monday brought better news. The health district reported 192 cases, an average of 64 a day, from Saturday through Monday.

Health Officer Bob Lutz says younger people who test positive are helping to drive recent increases in the count.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane’s two largest school districts have begun preparations to bring kindergarten students back to school the week after next.

The districts acted quickly after Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz announced he supports the immediate, but slow reopening of schools for children in kindergarten through second grade. He talked about that with reporters today [Thursday].

Spokane Public Schools screenshot

Adminstrators at Spokane County's two largest school districts have announced plans to send kindergarten students back to school the week after next. This follows an announcement early Wednesday afternoon that Health Officer Bob Lutz approved of districts slowly phasing in in-person instruction for kindergarten-through-second grade.