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News >  Spokane

5th death, 20 new cases of COVID-19 in Spokane County; testing site to reopen Thursday

UPDATED: Wed., April 1, 2020

Medical workers wait for the next vehicle to enter the screening center, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, at the Spokane County Fair & Expo Center. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Medical workers wait for the next vehicle to enter the screening center, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, at the Spokane County Fair & Expo Center. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
By Arielle Dreher and Jared Brown The Spokesman-Review

After weather-related closures, the Spokane County drive-up COVID-19 screening site is set to reopen tentatively Thursday morning at the Fair and Expo Center in a covered barn building. Signs will direct those wanting to be screened to where the new site is located.

Spokane County Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz said workers are readying the site with the hope of opening at 10 a.m. on Thursday. The testing site, which previously was a tent at the fairgrounds, was closed Monday as a result of high winds.

Numbers from the health district show that there are 165 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county, with five deaths. On Tuesday, the county had 145 cases. A man in his 70s is the latest death reported from the respiratory virus.

More than 20 people are hospitalized with the virus in Spokane County, Lutz said.

Statewide, nearly 6,000 cases were confirmed and 247 people had died as of Tuesday, according to the state health department. Case numbers increased by more than 900 from Sunday.

Across the border in the Idaho Panhandle, Kootenai County confirmed six new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 37 North Idaho cases Wednesday, including one case in Bonner County, according to the Panhandle Health District.

One Kootenai County resident younger than 50 was hospitalized with the disease Tuesday, but no new hospitalizations were reported Wednesday.

In all, Idaho reported more than 660 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and nine deaths, according to the state health department.

Latah County confirmed its first COVID-19 case Wednesday afternoon in a person in their 60s who was recovering at home, according to the Idaho North Central District. The person appeared to have contracted the novel coronavirus through travel.

Nez Perce County had 10 cases and two deaths as of Wednesday evening, while Idaho County reported two cases, according to the state health department and North Central District. Clearwater and Lewis counties reported none.

Spokane health care providers are not overwhelmed or experiencing surge capacity due to the virus.

“We are really preparing for if and when that surge is to occur, but I feel comfortable and confident saying we’re doing well (now),” Lutz told reporters Wednesday.

To date, health officials have not identified clusters of COVID-19 in high-risk populations in Spokane County. Local emergency rooms and urgent care centers have had less visits than normal, Lutz said.

With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention re-evaluating mask guidelines, Lutz said it cannot hurt to wear a mask in public, but conserving resources for health care workers is important.

“I need to ensure I have appropriate masking for health care workers and people on the front lines,” Lutz said, noting that generic surgical masks are adequate protection for source control in the community.

Lynn Kimball, executive director of Aging & Long Term Care of Eastern Washington, encouraged seniors to stay active, adhere to routines and reach out to family and friends using their phones and social media. She said seniors should make plans for who they can reach out to for essential items like groceries or medicine if they do get sick.

The agency launched a program for seniors to get a call from a care worker or a WSU nursing student to check-in with them on a regular basis. The support line for seniors and caregivers is (509) 960-7281.

Arielle Dreher's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.

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