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Spokane reports record 146 new cases as statewide COVID activity continues to rise

UPDATED: Fri., July 31, 2020

Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz answers questions during a press conference earlier this year. Spokane reported 146 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.  (Kathy Plonka/Spokesman-Review)
Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz answers questions during a press conference earlier this year. Spokane reported 146 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. (Kathy Plonka/Spokesman-Review)

Spokane County reported 146 new cases of people with COVID-19 on Friday, a record number that comes as data shows about one in 10 people who are tested are infected.

Friday’s count brings the total for the county to 3,816 cases. About half are recovered, according to the Spokane Regional Health District.

Washington State University researchers released a modeling tool this week to identify regions where COVID-19 cases are increasing and where resources to control infection rates are scarce.

In Eastern Washington, Grant, Okanogan and Adams counties are considered coronavirus hot spots.

“Rural areas started out with far fewer cases and deaths than metro areas, but in many parts of the country they’re quickly catching up,” Pablo Monsivais, co-developer of the tool and a WSU College of Medicine researcher, said in a news release.

“Given the limitations of health resources in rural communities, this tool can help health professionals respond more quickly to these rural areas of need, and also let us monitor trends in rural urban health inequities.”

The latest statewide modeling report from the Institute for Disease Modeling shows that hospitalizations may be slowing in Eastern Washington. In Spokane County, however, hospitalizations are at their highest levels this week. On Friday, 64 patients were receiving treatment at hospitals in Spokane County, 42 of whom were county residents.

Two more people from Spokane County died from the virus, according to Friday’s data, bringing the week’s total death count to a dozen. Since the pandemic began, 59 residents have died from COVID-19, according to the health district.

Gov. Jay Inslee extended several COVID-19-related orders on Friday and released additional guidance for restaurants and summer camps.

Restaurants and taverns in both Phase 2 and Phase 3 now can only seat a maximum of five people per tabletop, and indoor dining is limited to groups from the same household only. Alcohol service must cease at 10 p.m. for restaurants and taverns in Phase 2 and Phase 3.

Summer camps cannot operate normally with regular campers in Washington. Overnight group camping in Phase 2 and Phase 3 only allows for same household groups to stay in the same cabin, and all activities, including meals, must be outside.

A Georgia summer camp that was open for less than a week had one teen staff member begin experiencing symptoms and then leave camp, eventually testing positive for COVID-19. This led to at least 260 of the nearly 600 attendees and staff members at the camp testing positive for the virus.

The preliminary report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that these “findings demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 spread efficiently in a youth-centric overnight setting, resulting in high attack rates among persons in all age groups, despite efforts by camp officials to implement most recommended strategies to prevent transmission.”

The Panhandle Health District reported 49 new cases on Friday, for a total of 1,818 confirmed cases in the five-county region.

The district confirmed community spread is occurring in both Boundary and Shoshone counties, meaning there is community transmission in all five North Idaho counties now.

The Panhandle Health District is reporting that 12.7% of people getting tested are positive.

Another Kootenai County resident died from the virus on Friday, bringing the number of deceased to 11 in the Panhandle.

There are 23 people hospitalized with the virus.

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