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Kootenai Health restricting visitors as COVID-19 cases skyrocket in community

UPDATED: Tue., Dec. 15, 2020

Kootenai Health reported Tuesday that it's restricting visitors because of rising COVID-19 cases in the community.   (Kathy Plonka/The Spokesman-Review)
Kootenai Health reported Tuesday that it's restricting visitors because of rising COVID-19 cases in the community.  (Kathy Plonka/The Spokesman-Review)

Kootenai Health announced new visitor restrictions Tuesday as COVID-19 continues to sweep through the Idaho Panhandle.

With few exceptions, patients of the Coeur d’Alene hospital will not be allowed to receive visitors beginning Wednesday.

Kootenai Health implemented the policy as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in North Idaho continue to grow. The Panhandle Health District in Idaho reported 302 new cases on Tuesday and Kootenai Health reported treating 80 COVID-19 hospitalized patients, 24 of whom require intensive care.

“Because we are continuing to see an increase in our community’s positivity rate, we are adjusting our visitor restrictions to protect our patients and staff members from community COVID-19 exposures,” said Dr. Karen Cabell, Kootenai Health chief physician executive. “It was a difficult decision to make, but it is our responsibility to provide a safe healing environment for our patients.”

Exceptions will be made for those determined by doctors to be nearing death, who will be allowed four visitors – up to two at a time – in a 24-hour period. Mothers can be accompanied by one other person and a doula when they give birth.

Inpatients 17 and under can be visited by two parents or guardians in 24 hours. Those of any age can be visited by a religious leader, but the hospital strongly encourages virtual visits as an alternative.

The full list of exceptions to the visitation restrictions can be viewed at kh.org/covid-19.

The Spokane Regional Health District reported 220 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and three additional deaths, bringing the total to 311 fatalities.

It was the fifth consecutive day that Spokane County reported 200 or more COVID-19 cases, and the ninth time in the past 10 days. The health district attributes the continued spread of the disease to in-person gatherings and transmission in long-term care facilities.

The number of COVID-19 patients in Spokane hospitals increased from 130 to 133 on Tuesday, and 114 of those patients are Spokane County residents.

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