Washington’s number of confirmed COVID-19 cases eclipsed 1,000 and deaths due to the disease reached 52 Tuesday afternoon as the presence of the novel coronavirus was confirmed in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
While North Idaho had no confirmed cases as of Tuesday evening, Coeur d’Alene Mayor Steve Widmyer took action anyway, declaring a seven-day state of emergency that allows him to coordinate resources to address the pandemic. The City Council voted unanimously in favor of extending the declaration for 30 days.
The state reported nine cases between Ada, Blaine, Madison and Teton counties, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.
Panhandle Health District Director Lora Whalen told the council that some 200 people were tested at Kootenai Health’s drive-thru testing area on Monday and Tuesday. She said all tests have been negative so far.
The fourth case in Spokane – an airman at Fairchild Air Force Base who is in isolation off base – adds to the first three confirmations by the Spokane Regional Health District reported on Saturday.
The case at Fairchild led Air Force officials to declare a public health emergency Monday evening, joining Spokane city and county leaders who declared a state of emergency earlier in the day.
The Fairchild airman’s case was connected to the deep cleaning of Sacajawea Middle School, whichthe airman’s children attend, although the airman was never on the school grounds, according to Kelli Hawkins, public information officer at the Spokane Regional Health District.
The airman is quarantined off base, and the airman’s family is under observation. The Fairchild COVID-19 case is also connected to the Northern Quest Casino two-week closure, Hawkins said.
Seven counties in Eastern Washington have a total of 21 cases, including seven in Grant County and five in Yakima County, according to the state Department of Health. The only death reported east of the Cascades was in Grant County on March 8.
State health officials have not assigned 70 cases to a geographic area.
Lincoln County has one confirmed case, a woman in her 70s who is isolating at home. She was mildly symptomatic when her health care providers in Spokane decided to get her tested, Lincoln County health officials said.
The statewide total of confirmed cases grew by more than 100 from Monday, and the health department reported four new deaths.
Testing limitations continue to hamper local health districts’ ability to investigate possible spread of COVID-19 east of the Cascades, but testing did help Grant County health officials identify two clusters of infection in Quincy and Mattawa, confirming community spread of the virus there.
Hospitals and nursing homes have tightened visitor guidelines as a way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and Frontier Behavioral Health announced that all outpatient services, including medication management, clinical appointments and intakes, will be phone-based starting Thursday. Frontier’s group classes will also be canceled, but all inpatient and crisis response services will continue.
One day after shuttering bars, restaurants and many other businesses statewide for two weeks, Gov. Jay Inslee said state officials are discussing tighter restrictions on residents in order to slow the spread of the disease.
In Spokane, schools were shuttered Tuesday, as well as all other businesses impacted by Inslee’s order. Health officials continue to encourage employers to allow employees to work from home and maintain social distance, even for people who are considered low-risk for contracting the virus.
“It’s so important for them to remember that they could be carriers. While they aren’t concerned about passing it around themselves, who are they in contact with?” Hawkins said. “… If they want to help us as a community get past this, even though personally it may not affect them the same way, they are a part of this. They are a part of the solution.”
Being outside, going on walks or hikes and staying active are encouraged, as long as people keep 6 feet between them, Hawkins said.
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