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Inslee in Spokane: County could stay in Phase 3 with new reopening criteria

UPDATED: Fri., April 9, 2021

Spokane County might not have to move back to Phase 2 of the governor’s Roadmap to Recovery coronavirus reopening plan Monday, Gov. Jay Inslee said Friday during a visit to Spokane.

To stay in Phase 3, with bars, restaurants and gyms allowed to be half full, counties need to keep their two-week new COVID-19 case rates down, as well as new hospitalizations .

On Friday, Inslee announced that counties would have to fail in both metrics, not just one as previously mandated, in order to be pushed back to Phase 2.

The change, Inslee told reporters Friday, was due to an increased confidence in the amount of vaccine doses coming to the state, and based on evaluating counties based on the relationship between hospitalizations and case rates together, instead of separately.

“I think there will probably be some counties, which could include Spokane, which would have had to go back under our previous rule, but will not now,” Inslee said during a visit to the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena with local leaders .

While case trends in Spokane County have been headed in the wrong direction in recent weeks, it is not clear according to available data whether Spokane County would have to retreat to more restrictive rules on Monday.. The governor said Department of Health staff are planning to release the data on Monday, and the decisions will be based on those numbers alone.

Statewide, cases and hospitalizations are increasing among younger people. Everyone 16 and older will become eligible for vaccination starting on April 15 .

The arena, which has served as a county mass vaccination site, has the capacity to vaccinate 2,400 to 2,500 people per day.

On Thursday, the site vaccinated more than 1,000 people, and it was on target to vaccinate that many people on Friday as well. This marks an uptick from last week, when hundreds of appointments were going unfilled.

Appointments may be made online or walking up and scheduling an appointment on the day of at the ticket booths. Hours at the arena are changing next week to accommodate more residents’ work schedules.

The Spokane Arena site will be open during these hours, starting next week:

  • Tuesday and Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 pm
  • Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Friday and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The arena site is offering the Moderna vaccine.

While all residents 16 and older will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine soon, 16- and 17-year-olds can only receive the Pfizer vaccine.

Additional vaccine appointments are available at clinics and pharmacies countywide, and to book an appointment you can visit the state’s vaccine locator website or call (800) 525-0127, then press #.

Inslee asked residents to be patient as vaccine supplies will likely not meet demand in the coming weeks, but he also warned against hesitancy.

He encouraged the most vulnerable residents, who are 65 and older, to get vaccinated if they haven’t already. About 75% of Washington residents 65 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, leaving about 288,000 others in this group who have yet to get one shot.

The governor said he met with medical leaders and physicians this week, and the state will be hearing from them in the coming weeks about the safety of all three available vaccines.

“Confidence is building every single day just by people’s experience,” he said, noting that some people wanting to see what happened to others who took the vaccine now can see people who have been vaccinated for months with no adverse effects.

Here’s a look at local numbersThe Spokane Regional Health District confirmed 92 new COVID-19 cases on Friday and no additional deaths.

There are 41 patients being treated for COVID-19 in Spokane hospitals.

The Panhandle Health District confirmed 35 new COVID-19 cases on Friday and no additional deaths.

There are 29 Panhandle residents hospitalized with the virus.

Arielle Dreher'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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