Spokane County set a daily record with 134 new COVID-19 cases reported Friday, about as many cases as the total reported in all of March.
One more death was reported Friday, bringing the county’s total to 44. Currently, there are 28 county residents hospitalized due to COVID-19.
Friday’s count was the first daily report that topped 100 in Spokane County. In the whole month of March, the county reported only 145 cases.
According to the Spokane Regional Health District, the increase in cases is a combination of contact tracing, relaxing of testing criteria, increased testing accessibility and continued community spread.
Dr. Bob Lutz, Spokane County health officer, said in a statement that daily numbers can distract from trend lines, which are more useful when determining the spread of COVID-19 in Spokane County.
The trends from the past two weeks show that the county is steadily increasing in case counts, he said. The county consistently saw new case numbers near 100 the past week.
“There may be some good days and some bad days, but it’s the overall trend that guides us on setting measures necessary, such as required face coverings, to keep our community healthy,” Lutz said.
Spokane Valley Mayor Ben Wick, chairman of the Spokane Regional Health District board, said he remains hopeful that Spokane County can avoid more stringent restrictions. But he said he trusts Lutz’s judgment on the matter.
“I don’t want us to go backward, but we need to follow precautions so we can continue to move forward,” he said.
Spokane County is currently in Phase 2 of the state’s opening plan. Gov. Jay Inslee issued new restrictions Thursday regarding social gatherings across the state. The change limited the number of people allowed to gather from 50 to 10 in counties in Phase 3. Counties in Phase 3 include Whitman, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Ferry and Lincoln.
Gonzaga University also confirmed its first on-campus COVID-19 case. The individual was last physically present on campus on July 8, and individuals who had been exposed were notified.
The university said in a statement it would be working with the health district to identify and provide guidance for those who may have been in contact with the individual.
Washington reported 763 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, bringing the total number of people who have tested positive to 45,067. The state reported seven more deaths Friday for a total of 1,434.
Data from a Washington State Department of Health statewide situation report Friday showed the spread of COVID-19 continues to increase across most of the state. Aside from Yakima County, in both eastern and western Washington, the estimated number of new people each COVID-19 patient will infect is well above one, according to the department. The goal is for that number to fall below one, which would mean the number of people getting the virus is declining.
The number of daily new cases is higher than the state’s previous peak in March, according to the department. Hospitalization rates also are up across the state with the number of hospitalizations in Eastern Washington rising among all age groups.
“In these trends, we are seeing the impact of our collective decisions,” Secretary of Health John Wiesman said in a press release. “We are jeopardizing the gains we made as a state with the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order and the actions each one of us takes now will determine what happens next.”
Jonathan Brunt contributed to this report.
Laurel Demkovich'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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