The Spokane Regional Health District reported 53 cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, the second-highest number of cases reported in a single day, bringing the countywide total to 1,051.
More than 500 new cases have been confirmed since the county moved into Phase 2 on Memorial Day weekend.
While increased testing has contributed to a recent rise in cases, worksite and congregate-setting outbreaks and community spread are also to blame.
Community spread, which occurs when new cases cannot be linked to known confirmed cases or outbreaks, has increased in recent weeks.
Modelers have warned Spokane County Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz that the surge in cases could also lead to significant increases in hospitalizations. In the last two weeks, 20 county residents have been admitted to the hospital.
No new deaths due to the virus were reported today.
As of today at least 15 people are still receiving treatment for the virus in local hospitals.
This count does not represent all of the COVID patients receiving treatment in Spokane, however.
As of June 9, 24 patients were receiving treatment for COVID-19 in Spokane hospitals, according to state-collected hospital data. This data was originally scheduled to be updated Tuesday, but it will not be updated until June 30 by the state Department of Health.
Some COVID-19-positive inmates from Coyote Ridge Corrections Center, the site of an outbreak that has spread to more than 100 prisoners and staff, are receiving treatment in Spokane hospitals. Residents from other counties where hospitals don’t have as much capacity to deal with new cases are also being treated in Spokane. .
Local hospitals support Spokane Regional Health District Health Officer Bob Lutz’s decision to remain in Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan due to the stress potential further spread may pose to the health care system.
“As the region’s largest health care provider, we support the Spokane Regional Health District’s decision to remain in Phase 2 of reopening,” a statement from Providence Health Care said. “The data shows us that COVID cases are rising, not only due to increased testing capability, but also through community spread. While we have capacity at our hospitals, we do not support starting the process to move into Phase 3 reopening because it has the potential to put undue stress on our health care system and put a greater number of individuals at risk.”
MultiCare, which operates two area hospitals, released a statement on Tuesday expressing concern for the rise in the number of cases in the community.
“Although moving to phase three is not our decision to make, we can say that the increasing number of cases in our community is of great concern. It’s important we take measures to stay safe,” a statement from MultiCare Inland Northwest said.
Health officials have not found any epidemiological links among cases due to recent protests, which have been outdoors and had high percentages of people wearing face coverings. The 51 cases reported on Tuesday are primarily in household settings, where a person tested positive and then family members did too.
People in their 20s and 30s in Spokane County continue to contract the virus at high rates. Currently, 412 residents in this age range have COVID-19.
Kelli Hawkins, public information officer at the health district, said that not wearing masks, going out in groups of more than five people and not observing physical distancing could be causing more cases in young people.
“Although they are less likely to get sick, by being out and having COVID-19, they are spreading it to others,” she said.
Tuesday’s uptick in cases was not due to outbreaks in assisted living facilities or adult family homes.
A team of epidemiologists and other health district workers is still working to call all people who have a confirmed case of COVID-19 within 24 hours or receiving their information.
Arielle Dreher can be reached at (509) 459-5467 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Arielle Dreher'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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