Washington Department of Health

WA Department of Health/Facebook screenshot

Washington health officials say the omicron Covid variant is now in the Evergreen State. This weekend state Health Secretary Umair Shah announced three cases have been identified in western Washington.

“At this point, the likelihood is that we are going to see more confirmations, but I think we also have to balance that with remembering our biggest concern right now is delta. Delta variant in our state. That right now is impacting people as we speak with severe disease and we want to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to protect against that most urgently," he said.

Courtesy of Community Colleges of Spokane

The state of Washington plans to open two community Covid testing sites in Spokane, but not immediately.
Spokane Interim Health Officer Francisco Velazquez says a private company called Discovery Health, based in the Puget Sound area, will operate them. The new drive-through venues will be located at Spokane and Spokane Falls Community Colleges.

Courtesy Erin Dickey

Pets dead or sick after coming in contact with Columbia River water near the Tri-Cities, Wash. Now health officials have confirmed the culprit, Anatoxin-a in toxic algae.

Charlie was just nosing around in the Columbia River. Her family was off a beach they had visited many times before just north of Richland, Washington.

Spokane Looks To State For Covid Testing Help

Sep 1, 2021
Courtesy of CHAS Health

Spokane’s health district is asking the state Department of Health for help in re-establishing a community-based Covid testing site here.

The county has had high case numbers over the last several weeks. Interim Health Officer Francisco Velazquez says there’s no sign yet that trend is changing. The case surge has led to an increased demand for testing.

Washington Bucks The National Covid Variant Trend

Jun 23, 2021
TVW screenshot

Washington health officials say the state is bucking the trend when it comes to which of the Covid variants is more prevalent here.

All Washington Counties Now Back In Phase 3

May 18, 2021
Courtesy of Washington Department of Health

All Washington counties are now officially back in Phase 3 of the state’s coronavirus reopening protocol.

The state Department of Health today [Tuesday] officially elevated four counties from Phase 2.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has announced the state will wait two weeks before deciding whether to shift counties up or down in the coronavirus reopening protocol.

Ferry County Moves Back To Phase 2 Because Of Outbreak

Apr 30, 2021
Courtesy of Ferry County Memorial Hospital

Ferry County has become the fourth Washington county to move back to Phase 2 in the state’s coronavirus reopening protocol.

The Northeast Tri-County Health District on Friday announced that it has moved Ferry County back a step because of an outbreak, brought upon, at least in part, by two maskless parties at an Eagles’ Lodge in Republic in mid-April.

Washington Covid Vaccine Finder

For the last few months, Washington has limited who has access to coronavirus vaccines. But those limits go away on Thursday. All adults and 16- and 17-year-olds will be eligible to apply for vaccination appointments.

Courtesy of Washington Department of Health

Washington state health officials plan to announce today [Monday] whether any of the state’s 39 counties will have their Covid phase status changed.

“The good news is that we’re making progress in communities across the state, but there are communities or counties where we are seeing increases that are of concern," said Health Secretary Umair Shah.

Spokane COVID Response

Spokane County topped the 100 mark in new Covid cases for the second consecutive day. The timing isn't good, given that Washington state health authorities will soon decide whether counties will continue in Phase 3 of the state's reopening protocols or slip back to Phase 2.

Flickr Creative Commons

When Washington opens Covid vaccinations to anyone older than 16 on April 15, some believe that will lead to a rush of new people that will overwhelm the state’s Covid vaccine application system. The Department of Health's Michele Roberts isn’t so sure.

Flickr Creative Commons

The Covid vaccine will soon be available to anyone 16 and older in Washington and Idaho. But what happens if a 16- or 17-year-old wants to be inoculated, yet his or her parents say no?

Next Covid Vaccine Phase in WA Opens On Wednesday

Mar 15, 2021
Courtesy of Washington Department of Health

Washington will open Covid vaccinations to a new group of people on Wednesday.

The new phase will add high-risk workers in certain settings where there are large numbers of people: grocery stores, food processing and correctional facilities, fishing vessels and buses. It will also apply to people 16 and older who are pregnant or who have a disability that puts them at high risk for severe disease if they contract the virus.

Courtesy of Washington Department of Health

Washington's Department of Health is moving its vaccine prioritization soon to more essential workers rather than just those over the age of 65. But one set of workers not found on the priority list is restaurant employees.

Washington Covid Vaccine Shipments Increasing

Feb 15, 2021
Courtesy of Washington Department of Health

Washington health officials say the Covid supply chain from the federal government is becoming a little more certain.

Assistant Health Secretary Michele Roberts briefed a Washington House committee today [Monday].

Courtesy of Washington Department of Health

Washington state health officials say nearly one million residents have received at least one of the Covid 19 vaccinations in the state. That's a major mile marker as they push to meet a goal of vaccinating 45,000 per day.

Even so, they say they are seeing inequity in the number of minorities who are receiving the shots.

Courtesy of Washington Department of Health

Washington’s top public health official toured Spokane’s Covid mass vaccination site on Tuesday. It’s one of four such sites the state is sponsoring around the state.

Department of Health Secretary Umair Shah learned that around 7,500 people have received their first Covid shots at the Spokane Arena.

Screenshot from Facebook Live

Washington health secretary Umair Shah says he’s not in favor of Covid vaccinators around the state changing the dose or skipping out on the second shot.

Those measures have been suggested as a way to get some protection to more people in a faster manner or as a way to maximize the vaccines’ effectiveness.

WA Governor Announces New Covid Reopening Plan

Jan 5, 2021
Washington Governor's Office

Governor Jay Inslee announced today [Tuesday] Washington will take measures to begin easing its restrictions again on activities related to the coronavirus.

“It includes a small resumption of activities statewide. This includes live entertainment with very tight restrictions. We’re talking about ticketing groups of 10, as well as certain fitness programs," Inslee said.

Washington Department of Health screenshot

About 60,000 Washington highest-risk health care workers have received doses of one of the two Covid vaccines.

“There are some communities here in Washington that have already completed or are very near to completing vaccination of their high-risk workers in health care environments," says Washington Deputy Secretary of Health Lacy Fehrenbach.

Psychologist Urges Us To Overcome "Pandemic Apathy"

Dec 27, 2020

Christmas and other holiday celebrations have been much different this year due to Covid. Health officials have urged families not to gather and, if they must, to do it in places that minimize the spread of the virus, like backyards.

The call for holiday restraint comes at a time when our society as a whole yearns for physical contact.

Washington Department of Health psychologist Kira Mauseth is counseling people how to deal with the isolation.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The Spokane School District says it will soon offer Covid testing to staff and students who show symptoms and want to be tested.

Health Director Rebecca Doughty says Spokane is one of 10 districts participating in a pilot program originated by the state Department of Health.

TVW screenshot

Washington state health officials are still debating which groups of people would be first to receive the new Covid vaccines.

State Health Officer Kathy Lofy briefed members of the state Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee on Tuesday.


Washington state health officials say they expect to receive their first shipment of the first Covid vaccine by mid-December. That’s if a federal committee approves the vaccine produced by Pfizer when it meets on December 10.

TVW screenshot

The Covid train continues to roll in Spokane County. The health district on Tuesday reported 234 new cases. Taken over a two-week period, that’s about 560 cases per hundred thousand residents.

Screenshot from WA Department of Health briefing

Washington state and local health district officials today [Tuesday] urged people to scale back their holiday plans in an attempt to stop the current surge of Covid in many parts of the state.

State Health Department Secretary John Wiesman says that surge has accelerated over the last month.

“The slope is increasing right now to a point where we are very concerned, if not alarmed,” Wiesman said.

Is Wildfire Smoke Coming? Be Ready, Just In Case

Aug 19, 2020
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The air quality around the Northwest is gradually worsening with the increasing number of wildfires burning this week.

Health and air quality officials are urging people to be prepared in case the smoke becomes more prominent.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Part of the battle for local health officials in monitoring the coronavirus is getting enough testing and personal protective equipment for health care workers.

The Spokane Regional Health District relies almost exclusively on the state Department of Health for its supplies.

Health Officer Bob Lutz says that supply chain has been somewhat spotty. But he hit the motherlode last week with a shipment of about 125-thousand KN-95 masks.

Spokane COVID Response

UPDATED: Monday 3 pm

Spokane County added nine new Covid cases on Monday. That, added to 31 reported over the weekend, continues the steady increase in confirmed cases since the county moved to phase two of the state’s reopening strategy. The official count is now 842.

The trend in Spokane has caught the attention of the Washington Department of Health.