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COVID-19 cases in Spokane County continue to rise with 59 new cases reported Friday

This 2020 electron microscope made available by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention image shows the spherical coronavirus particles from the first U.S. case of COVID-19.   (CDC via AP)

Spokane County had 59 new confirmed COVID-19 cases Friday, raising the total case count to 1,544, according to the Spokane Regional Health District.

Eighteen county residents were hospitalized in Spokane County on Friday, according to a health district news release. No new coronavirus-related deaths were reported.

The recent spike in positive COVID-19 cases reflects a combination of increased contact tracing, relaxing of testing criteria, increased testing accessibility and continued community spread, the health district said in a statement.

“When we investigate positive cases, the result of reaching out to those who came in close contact is an increase in testing and possible discovery of more positive cases, many of whom may not have symptoms,”Spokane County Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz said in a statement. “They now know to self-quarantine to help keep others in our community healthy.”

Lutz reiterated the public should remain vigilant with measures recommended in Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start reopening plan because of the concerning number of cases in the community.

“Recent increases in positive cases without an epidemiological link are signals alerting us to potential community-wide spread that could result in increased hospitalizations and hinder our ability to keep our community open,” Lutz said in the statement. “If we remain steady with a calibrated, methodical approach to reopen and follow recommended public health measures, then we can continue to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Spokane County.”