Arrow-right Camera
Subscribe now


With Labor Day spike, COVID-19 activity in Spokane County is on the rise again

This electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases earlier this year shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. Coronaviruses, including the newest one, are named for the spikes that cover their outer surface like a crown, or corona in Latin. Using those club-shaped spikes, the virus latches on to the outer wall of a human cell, invades it and replicates, creating viruses to hijack more cells.   (NIAID/NIH via AP)

After a decline and then a plateau of COVID-19 activity in August, case counts appear to be on the rise again in Spokane County.

On Monday, the Spokane Regional Health District confirmed 74 new cases of COVID-19, in addition to the 154 cases confirmed over the weekend. That’s more than 200 cases in just three days, capping off a week of increased case counts locally.

“It went down, but now we’re going back up, we’ve had a significant hit over the past week or so,” Spokane County Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz told reporters on Monday. He said Labor Day gatherings are to blame for some of the uptick in COVID activity.

“What we’re seeing is undoubtedly a function of, to some degree or another, a holiday spike,” he said. “A lot (of cases) we’re able to link a case to a case, and activities that occurred over the holiday weekend.”

Hospitalizations had dropped significantly at the start of September, but appear to be increasing again as well.

Currently 41 patients are getting treatment for COVID-19 in local Spokane hospitals, and 33 of them are county residents.

Lutz said he’s hopeful case counts will decrease again once this spike is addressed, although he noted that wearing face coverings and limiting gatherings is necessary to do so.

After an initial decline in August, the incidence rate has plateaued and now is increasing again as well. There are 104 cases per 100,000 residents in Spokane County, a rate still too high and headed in the wrong direction for health officials to recommend in-person learning for students. The state’s goal is to fall below 75 cases per 100,000 residents to open schools.

Lutz said his biggest concern is students returning to school in-person, like in the Mead School District, could lead to outbreaks.

“With rates where they are right now, cases will occur,” he said.

Spokane County case counts continue to be driven by young adults. Currently 25% of the county’s cases are residents in their 20s.

Five more Spokane County residents have died from the virus, according to health district records, bringing the total number of deaths due to COVID-19 in Spokane County to 153. The vast majority of deaths in the county are in residents who are older than 70.

Outbreaks in Spokane County long-term care facilities continue as well, with COVID-19 cases present in staff or residents at 11 facilities accounting for nearly 300 cases in the last month.

The Panhandle Health District confirmed 54 new cases on Monday.

There are 23 Panhandle residents currently hospitalized for the virus, and 57 residents of the five-county region have died due to COVID-19.

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.