Stevens County

Courtesy of the Northeast Tri-County Health District

Hospitalizations and new COVID-19 cases in eastern Washington and north Idaho are soaring – and healthcare providers fear that if this trend continues, there will soon be a shortage of both beds and staff to treat dangerously ill patients from both rural and urban communities.

Northeast Tri County Health Officer Sam Artzis said the counties he serves, Stevens, Ferry and Pend Oreille, have not only approached the high tide mark from last December for hospitalization and new cases.

Courtesy of the Northeast Fire Information Center

The Ford-Corkscrew fire that has burned 15,000 acres in Stevens County is now 14% contained.

Stevens County Fire District 1 Chief Mike Bucy says a rough perimeter has been established around the fire. He likens the current activity to connecting the dots, where some gaps remain in areas with rougher terrain.

Vaccine shot
Flickr / US Army Corps of Engineers

As Washington state’s vaccination rate approaches 70%, many more rural counties are lagging behind. Health officials are hoping trusted relationships with physicians will close that gap.

Here's one small item that shows state officials are worried about wildfires. The Department of Natural Resources says people may, temporarily, no longer use two of its properties in Stevens County as shooting ranges. They're worried shooters could spark fires in the dry conditions there.

Courtesy Stevens County Fire District 1

Fire crews in Stevens County are urging the community to be cautious when using guns after several fires broke out at shooting ranges.

Officials say the most recent fire at the area known as Bogg’s Pit near Loon Lake was the third since April.

The largest burn was about two acres.

TVW screenshot

Washington health officials say a dozen counties are in danger of moving back to Phase 2, or perhaps even Phase 1, in the state’s coronavirus reopening plan.

They include rural Ferry County.

Washington Department of Health

Washington state Health Department officials today [Monday] granted Stevens County the variance it sought to move to the second phase of the state's four-phase reopening plan.

Health Secretary John Wiesman announced Stevens can join Wahkiakum and Skamania Counties in moving to the next phase.

Tri-County Health District

The health board that governs Washington’s three northeastern counties has taken the first step toward reopening businesses.

The Tri-County Board of Health voted today [Monday] to allow its health district to formally apply for a variance from the state’s four-step plan for exiting coronavirus restrictions and move more quickly than other counties. Phase one goes into effect statewide on Tuesday.

Washington State University

In Stevens County in northeast Washington, there’s an effort brewing to build a more robust local food industry.

“And especially with the world, at least Washington state and the whole West Coast, moving toward a trend in local food, it seems like now is a really great time to sort of reestablish our area as a major supplier to Spokane,” said Nils Johnson, extension coordinator in the WSU Extension Office in Stevens County. He’s also part of the Community Agriculture Development Center in Colville.

Will Folsom via Flickr, Creative Commons License

Rural fire crews in northeast Washington are on alert, hoping no major fires break out before the rains finally arrive.

The ponderosa forests of Stevens County are tinder dry right now, and fire managers hope they have enough resources to be able to handle what might be in store before fire season is over.