Spokane Regional Health District

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."

Spokane COVID Response

Spokane County has set another one-day record for confirmed Covid cases. The health district reports 146 cases and two more deaths. That makes 14 deaths and 34 new hospitalizations of Spokane County residents over the last week.

Health Officer Bob Lutz doesn’t expect things to change anytime soon.

Courtesy of MultiCare

Spokane County has hit a mini-plateau when it comes to new Covid cases. County health officials reported 82 new cases on Wednesday, the fifth consecutive day in the eighties or less.

Health Officer Bob Lutz says the number of hospitalizations continues to inch up, with 63 active cases in Spokane on Wednesday, including 28 from outside the county.

Spokane Regional Health District

Another day, another big batch of Covid cases in Spokane.

The health district reported 91 new cases on Monday, on top of 85 on Saturday, 61 on Sunday and 133 on Friday.

Many of the people infected are in the 20-to-40 age range. You can conclude, therefore, that the health district’s message of "wear a mask" and "don’t gather in large groups" isn’t working.

Health officials are trying to find a better way to market to young adults.

Public Health Institute

Spokane public health officials have contracted with an Oakland, California-based company to help epidemiologists here trace a growing number of Covid cases.

Spokane is the fourth Northwest county to hire the Public Health Institute to help with contact tracing.

Spokane COVID Response

Spokane County has blown past its previous high in confirmed coronavirus cases.

The Spokane Regional Health District reported 134 new cases on Friday and one new death.

Missy Nadvornick

Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz is looking for 80% of county residents to wear masks as they’re out and about. That, he says, is the minimum needed to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Right now, his rough guess is that about 65% of people are masking up.

Spokane County Sets Covid Record On Sunday

Jul 5, 2020
Courtesy of Spokane Regional Health District

Spokane County reported a record 98 confirmed Covid cases on Sunday. That’s 17 more than the previous mark, set earlier last week.

The 20-to-29 age group continues to be the leader in the demographic count with more than a quarter of the county’s 1,668 cases.

The number of Covid-related hospitalizations in Spokane County continues to inch up.

Today [Thursday], Health Officer Bob Lutz reported 30 people are receiving care, up two from Wednesday. Eighteen of them are Spokane County residents, up three from Wednesday. Ten are in intensive care.

Spokane Now Two Confirmed Covid Cases Short of 1,000

Jun 22, 2020
Spokane COVID Response

Spokane County is now two confirmed Covid cases away from a thousand, with 22 new cases reported today [Monday] and 157 during the last seven days.

Spokane’s consistent increases come at a time when some elected officials, particularly the three county commissioners, are pushing the health officer to move forward in the process toward phase three.

Spokane Reports 18 New Covid Cases On Saturday

May 29, 2020
Spokane COVID Response

UPDATED: The Spokane Regional Health District reported another 18 cases on Saturday. 

The county has confirmed 588 people have tested positive for the virus over the last two-plus months with 32 deaths. 138 people have tested positive in the week since Spokane County officially elevated to phase two of the state’s four-phase reopening protocol.

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.

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.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz today [Wednesday] issued an order that directs people wear masks when they enter public indoor areas.

“Not necessarily in open spaces, but in stores, if you’re going to be in a confined space where physical distancing is difficult, I am going to strongly recommend, I am going to say you must wear a mask."

Skepticism Abounds Around Contact Tracing And Mask Orders

May 13, 2020
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane public health officials are not only battling the coronavirus. They’re also battling skepticism from people questioning the effectiveness of their advice and their motives.

When the Spokane Regional Health District moves to enhance its program for tracing people who test positive for Covid-19, its motives will be questioned.

Missy Nadvornick

Spokane County’s contact tracing program to track people with the coronavirus is set to begin June 15.

Training volunteers to help man the program will start June 1.

WSU College of Medicine

Spokane public health officials have recruited medical and nursing students to be part of an enhanced contact tracing team. Their job will be to contact and follow people who test positive for the coronavirus.

One Washington State University medical student is already involved in a similar effort.

Second Big Health Issue Looming: Wildfires

May 8, 2020
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz has plenty to worry about with managing the local public health response to the coronavirus. But now he has another issue on his radar screen: wildfires.

Lutz is regularly on the phone with Washington Department of Health officials about Covid-related issues. But Thursday afternoon, he was also preparing to talk with them about the upcoming wildfire season.

Courtesy of Spokane Regional Health District

Spokane County’s mobile coronavirus testing clinic will be closed for the next three days while health officials prepare it for a new operator.

Health Officer Bob Lutz says, beginning Monday, members of the Washington Air National Guard will man the station and take samples from customers who drive up.

The Dos and Don'ts Of Cleaning Masks

Apr 28, 2020
Spokane COVID Response

Mask etiquette and hygiene have become conversation topics on Zoom and on the Internet as people wonder what’s the best way to keep their face wear clean.

A Spokane Fire Department deputy chief says there are definitely mask sanitizing no-nos. He showed a few of them to reporters on Tuesday.

Spokane Covid Testing To Change To Dispersed Locations

Apr 24, 2020

Spokane County will move to a new Covid testing phase beginning next Friday.

For the last few weeks, people wanting tests have been able to go to their doctor or to the county’s mobile testing clinic at the Spokane County Fairgrounds.

Missy Nadvornick

Washington Governor Jay Inslee says the state expects to soon expand coronavirus testing around the state as more kits become available.

Along with that will be an increase in contact tracing. That’s the detective work done by health organizations to pinpoint who people with the coronavirus have had contact with.

Courtesy of Spokane Regional Health District

Our new Inland Journal podcast features a chat with Spokane County Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz. We’ll hear about an isolation facility at the Spokane County Fairgrounds where people who were exposed to the coronavirus and show  symptoms (or who have symptoms of flu or the cold) can stay if they have nowhere safe to go. We’ll also talk about expanded testing and contact tracing and other issues. This program was recorded Thursday afternoon, April 23.

Spoklane COVID Response

Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz says advice from the Washington Department of Health about when to test people for the coronavirus is changing.

“There will be new guidance coming out this week to health care professionals that will be talking about the importance of testing anybody, anybody, I emphasize, who has symptoms that are suggestive of COVID-19," Lutz said.

Spokane Regional Health District

Spokane County has crossed the 250 mark in confirmed coronavirus cases. Four new cases have pushed the total 251 with 14 deaths. The health district doesn’t list the number of people tested.

Health Officer Bob Lutz says the county has a long way to go before the outbreak would be considered over or even controlled. But the light at the end of the tunnel may be getting brighter.

Spokane Coronavirus Notes: Tuesday

Mar 31, 2020
Spokane COVID Response

Spokane County’s screening of patients for coronavirus at the county fairgrounds is on hold because of bad weather on Monday.

"We saw that the tent was blown over and so, because of those concerns, we are re-identifying or looking for a new spot for that tent. So until further notice, it looks like tent is going to be closed for screening at least until Wednesday. It’s our hope that we can have it up, best, by Thursday," said Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz.

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 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.

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.

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.