Fourteen new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Spokane County on Thursday, bringing the current total of confirmed cases to 540.
More than 100 cases have been confirmed in the past week, in part due to an outbreak at a local pasta factory and to increased testing and contact tracing efforts.
Close contacts are now identified and tested faster than they were early in the pandemic. Many cases, including those confirmed in recent days, are tied to community spread or several members of a single household testing positive.
Seven people are receiving treatment for COVID-19 in local hospitals. No new deaths have been reported this week.
The county’s Emergency Operations Center will close up shop on Friday, with another committee taking its place to coordinate regional efforts instead.
The COVID-19 Recovery Group Committee, which includes city, county, business and health district officials, began meeting this week and will continue to work on COVID-19 response efforts locally. Those meetings are public and noticed by Spokane County.
The health district can reinstate the EOC if the need arises for a more robust response, said Amelia Clark, administrator of the health district.
Spokane County Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz and Clark are working on what metrics they will use to determine whether the EOC should reopen in the future.
As for daily Facebook Live events that have been held since the pandemic began, the health district and the new committee will discuss whether those will continue.
The fairgrounds screening and testing site, which the National Guard staffs, is set to close on June 9. After that date, the health district will rely on local health care partners, including CHAS clinics that can offer testing for those who do not have health insurance free of charge.
Lutz asked the board of health on Thursday to help him temper expectations that the county will move through the governor’s next reopening phases quickly.
“The three-week clock started last Friday, but it will undoubtedly be extended and people need to understand that going forward there is no timeline,” Lutz told the SRHD Board of Health on Thursday. “It will be when we are comfortable with the data provided to us by the Department of Health.
“It’s a challenging time to manage expectations and with the holiday weekend and moving to Phase 2. I hope that I don’t continue to see this increased number of cases and/or I see more community outbreaks, because that will be a setback for us.”
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