Spokane County health officials announced 46 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the weekly county total to 373 and the county’s overall tally to 1,942.
Hospitalizations of county residents, which were predicted in mid-June to double, have done so.
About a dozen county residents were hospitalized in mid-June, and 27 residents were as of Friday. But Spokane hospitals are also treating another 15 COVID-19 patients total, including residents from outside the county.
With ballooning case counts, community spread and backlogged test results, Spokane County Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz said the county is, in essence, “truly back to where we were in March.”
The health district continues to identify cases tied to local businesses as well as cases not connected to any other confirmed cases, which is a sign of community spread.
Lutz expressed concerns about residents not adhering to Phase 2 guidelines for gatherings, which should involve fewer than five people, with face coverings and physical distancing in place.
Processing of tests is backed up at national laboratories, causing wait times of up to a week for people awaiting test results. But Lutz reiterated that people waiting for test results must isolate at home until they get them back.
“The presumptive diagnosis is that you’re positive. Even if your symptoms lessen, you need to keep self-isolating,” he said.
With case counts increasing in the Panhandle Health District of North Idaho and in some Eastern Washington’s rural counties, Lutz said he is concerned about the region in general.
The Northeast Tri County Health District confirmed seven new cases across all three counties in one day this week, which was a record.
Matt Schanz, administrator of the health district in the counties, said the increase is concerning because some of these cases were acquired locally, meaning the virus has spread within the three counties, even as some cases were acquired by traveling outside the tri-county region.
“We know there’s person-to-person transmission in our counties,” Schanz said.
What is happening in Spokane County will impact what happens in nearby counties, Schanz said, especially when it comes to hospital capacity.
“We are joined at the hip to Spokane’s medical system through Providence and MultiCare,” Schanz said, noting that patients who need intensive treatment for the virus in intensive care units will likely receive that care in the Lilac City.
A stressed Spokane hospital system would impact their ability to move ahead in the governor’s reopening phases, although all counties are frozen at the moment and not allowed to apply to advance further due to case counts increasing statewide.
The Northeast Tri County Health District announced that an employee of the Colville McDonald’s tested positive for the virus on Thursday, and the restaurant closed for a deep cleaning. Employees identified as close contacts have been asked to complete a two-week quarantine before returning to work, and no customers were identified as close contacts.
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