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News >  Washington

Eastern Washington’s COVID-19 rate is more than double the West Side’s

UPDATED: Fri., Oct. 16, 2020

 (Molly Quinn / The Spokesman-Review)
(Molly Quinn / The Spokesman-Review)

The COVID-19 case rate in Eastern Washington is over twice that of western Washington, according to data through Oct. 2 released Wednesday in a Department of Health situation report.

The report found the seven-day rolling average test positive rate in Eastern Washington to be 8.8% on Oct. 2, compared to western Washington’s 3.2%. The daily hospitalization rate also was more than twice as high at the time.

The report calls the COVID-19 situation in Eastern Washington – Klickitat, Yakima, Kittitas, Chelan and Okanagan counties and farther east – “unstable.” Efforts to control the virus must be maintained to avoid worse trends, according to the report.

The report also found cases and hospitalization numbers fluctuated throughout September – increasing and decreasing without a known trend. The desired trend is for case and hospitalization rates to go down only.

Because of these findings, the report calls the situation in Eastern Washington “precarious.”

The report warns of lapses in behaviors that can “rapidly reverse decreasing trends in cases and potentially lead to increases in COVID-19 mortality.”

The report does not include any data after Oct. 2 .

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Health officials have urged residents for months to avoid large gatherings, social distance when possible and wear a mask.

On Wednesday, Spokane County Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz said he is preparing to tighten restrictions if case counts continue to rise, adding he was looking at data to determine where hot spots exist.

“If we see the same sectors light up, that’s where I would try to leverage and make changes to prevent that transmission,” he said.

In the past week, Spokane County saw more than 600 new COVID-19 cases, including 350 in the past three days, the Spokane Regional Health District reported.

On Friday, the district reported 109 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the state’s total to 8,592 . About 72% of those have recovered.

Two more people also died due to COVID-19, bringing the county total to 183. There are 35 county residents hospitalized for the virus.

Some communities in Washington that have “knocked their numbers down dramatically” are now able to move forward in Washington’s reopening plan, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Tuesday. Five counties – Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Franklin and Yakima – will move to Phase 2, which allows for some gatherings for weddings, large indoor capacity at restaurants and limited public access to libraries, museums and movie theaters.

Case counts in Whitman County remain steady as the coronavirus outbreak that started on Washington State University’s campus spreads throughout the community. The county reported 24 new cases of the virus on Friday, bringing the county’s total to 1,614 . One person, a man older than 80, died due to the virus.

The county has four total deaths due to the virus. Three people are hospitalized.

Cases in North Idaho are also on the rise.

Friday’s numbers are another example of how the virus is spreading in the area, which saw its largest spike yet on Tuesday, when it reported 119 new cases. The Panhandle Health District reported 108 new cases on Friday, bringing the total to 4,239 . The district, which includes Kootenai, Benewah, Bonner, Boundary and Shoshone counties, has seen 70 deaths to the virus. There are 32 people hospitalized.

The majority of cases are in Kootenai County, which was moved into the orange moderate risk level, the second highest, on Thursday.

For a county to reach that, it has to have a seven-day rolling average of 16-30 cases per 100,000 people, a testing positivity rate of 8.1% to 20% or a regional hospital bed occupancy greater than 90%.

Kootenai County’s seven-day rolling average was 21 cases per 100,000 people, as of Friday.

The health board will meet next week to re-evaluate Kootenai County’s mask mandate, which was put into place in late July and has received pushback from residents.


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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