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More than 100 COVID-19 cases confirmed in Spokane County over the weekend

Spokane County Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz appears at a COVID-19 news conference in September. He was fired two months later, and emails between him and Mayor Nadine Woodward obtained by The Spokesman-Review shed new light on the tension within the area’s coronavirus pandemic response team.  (Kathy Plonka)

The Spokane Regional Health District reported 102 COVID-19 cases over the weekend and 29 new cases on Monday.

Spokane County’s two-week incidence rate has edged up after dropping to about 90 cases per 100,000 residents a few weeks ago to 96 cases per 100,000 residents according to the most recent state data.

There are 33 patients with COVID-19 in Spokane hospitals, and 24 of them are county residents. Over the weekend, four more residents died from the virus, bringing the total number of deaths to 143.

Health officials are asking residents to stay inside as much as possible as the current air quality in Spokane is hazardous.

To keep air clean inside, health officials recommend closing windows and doors and setting air conditioners to recirculate, using HEPA filters to clean the air or creating box fan filters.

These recommendations differ from COVID-19 recommendations that include keeping windows open and meeting outside with others whenever possible.

Cloth face coverings are still recommended to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but they are not sufficient to keep out tiny particles polluting the air from wildfire smoke.

“Cloth face coverings generally do not provide much protection from wildfire smoke, but they are still crucial in a pandemic,” Secretary of Health John Wiesman said in a news release. “We want people to continue to wear cloth face coverings to slow spread of COVID-19.”

The Spokane Regional Health District canceled its mobile COVID-19 testing in Airway Heights as well as the Mead curbside vaccination clinic scheduled for Tuesday, due to the wildfire smoke.

The Panhandle Health District reported 56 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend including Monday.

The five-county region has had about 3,000 confirmed virus cases, with 253 active cases. There are nine Panhandle residents hospitalized with the virus, and 53 residents have died.

Whitman County, specifically Pullman, became a hot spot after hundreds of college students tested positive in the last month.

Whitman County Public Health reported 79 new cases over the weekend and on Monday, bringing their total count to 1,054 in the county. The majority of those who tested positive are young adults, save for two adults over the age of 40.

No one is hospitalized for the virus in Whitman County.

Arielle Dreher's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is primarily funded by the Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund, with additional support from Report for America and members of the Spokane community. These stories 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.