Spokane continues to break COVID-19 daily case numbers.
The Spokane Regional Health District reported 513 new cases of the virus Monday and more than 1,000 new cases in the last three days.
The health district also confirmed the first child, between the ages of 10 and 19, has died due to COVID-19 in the county.
The level of risk still remains low to children and teens, interim health officer Dr. Francisco Velázquez said in a news release, but they can still be infected and face varying levels of complications.
“While we feel every death we report is tragic, we do want to recognize that the loss of a child’s life is something that hits a community particularly hard,” Velázquez said. “It is our hope that we, as a community, take this time to remember those who have lost their lives, reach out to those who are grieving their loss, and come together to keep our community safe.”
Although the child is the youngest person in Spokane County to die from the virus, three people between the ages of 0-19 have died in Washington: two in Pierce County and one in King County.
There are 105 people hospitalized in the district, including 104 county residents. Four more people died over the weekend, bringing the county total to 242 deaths due to the virus.
The county has now reported 15,074 COVID-19 cases. The health department estimates that 62.5% of those have recovered.
The rate at which Spokane sees 1,000 new cases is becoming shorter. The county didn’t top 1,000 cases until June 23, 101 days after its first case. It took the county 18 days to top 2,000, and 12 more days to top 3,000, 12 more days to top 4,000 and 18 more days to top 5,000 cases.
Nearly every week since the start of November has brought 1,000 new cases in the region. The county saw 1,026 more COVID-19 cases just last week from Monday through Friday.
In North Idaho, daily case rates are also on the rise.
The Panhandle Health District confirmed 246 COVID-19 cases on Monday, including Saturday and Sunday. Four more people died over the weekend, bringing the district total to 103 deaths due to the virus. There are currently 66 people hospitalized with COVID-19.
As of Monday, Kootenai Health has 53 COVID-19 patients with 18 patients needing critical care.
All counties in the district – Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai and Shoshone – are currently in the Red, or “substantial risk,” level, meaning there are more than 30 new daily cases per 100,000 people, more than 20% of COVID-19 tests are positive, and hospital capacity is at or above 100%. The district board of health voted Thursday to require masks to be worn in public throughout its five counties when social distancing cannot occur.
Whitman County confirmed 100 new COVID cases over the weekend. The county total is now 2,255 cases with 22 deaths. Six people are currently hospitalized with the virus. The majority of people testing positive are in their 20s and 30s.
Most cases in the county are coming from Pullman, which saw 238 new cases in the last two weeks. Students returning to Washington State University in the fall brought COVID-19 with them, beginning the community spread that the county has now.
Despite health officials’ plea to avoid Thanksgiving travel, about one million Americans a day flew over the weekend, according to the Associated Press. The numbers are down from Thanksgiving last year, but the crowds are the largest airports have seen since mid-March.
Still, health officials are pleading with people to stay home. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged people last week to avoid Thanksgiving travel and to stay home.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee told reporters on Friday that the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is with members of your household.
“We want to have as many people alive as possible next Thanksgiving,” he said.
Officials in Washington are also urging people not to get tested simply just to gather on Thanksgiving.
Inslee said Friday he was concerned the number of people getting tested could result in strains on the number of tests available.
“We want to make sure people who actually have symptoms can get tests,” Inslee said. “We really do discourage people from getting testing just to enable them to have Thanksgiving dinner.”
In Washington, an increase in testing has already resulted in backlogs in the state’s reporting system.
The Washington State Department of Health announced Saturday it was asking state labs conducting the largest volumes of tests to temporarily stop sending individual negative COVID-19 test results and instead send the aggregate number of negative test results per day.
During this time, the state’s dashboard will report positive cases but not the total number of daily tests or percent positive.
The decision is result of a higher number of tests being conducted, which the state’s disease reporting system can’t handle. The system can receive and process approximately 33,000 total results per day, but according to a news release, it is currently receiving 30,000 to 50,000 records per day.
As of Saturday, there were 53,000 results that accumulated during the past two to three days, according to the release. The backlog means the number of new COVID cases on the dashboard is likely an undercount.
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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