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Super-spreader events in Ferry County lead to surge in coronavirus cases

April 23, 2021 Updated Sat., May 15, 2021 at 1:30 a.m.

This electron micrograph from February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19.  (HOGP)
This electron micrograph from February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19. (HOGP)

Case counts have surged in Ferry County due to super-spreader events earlier this month.

On April 10 and 11, events at the Fraternal Order of the Eagles in Republic led to positive COVID-19 tests for dozens of people.

“It’s really taking a toll on the community,” Northeast Tri County Health Officer Sam Artzis said.

Artzis, who returned from visiting Republic on Friday, said that the grocery store was forced to close early, and one of the local banks had to call in extra staff.

He said that after the health district was able to identify “patient zero,” Artzis considered the outbreak’s source to be super-spreader events that took place a couple of weekends ago.

There have been 63 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Ferry County in the last two weeks, with a vast majority of them tied to events in Republic, Artzis said.

The outbreak is, in part, a result of people not following public health guidance anymore, health officials said Friday, and virus case counts are rising in all three northeastern counties.

Matt Schanz, administrator of the Northeast Tri County Health District, said that two of the three counties might be at risk for moving backward in the governor’s phases on May 3.

Ferry County currently has a two-week case rate of 810 cases per 100,000 residents, according to the Northeast Tri County Health District.

There are two Ferry County residents hospitalized. One could not be transferred to Spokane or Idaho hospitals and had to be sent elsewhere, Artzis said.

“We have a ways to go with this virus, and we’re saying it’s not done with us,” Schanz said.

Getting vaccinated, continuing to wear masks and limiting gatherings are needed to curb the increase in COVID-19 cases in the three counties, Schanz added.

“People have to get vaccinated and people have to pay heed to these strategies, and that’s definitely challenging in our communities right now,” he said.

Here’s a look at local numbersThe Spokane Regional Health District confirmed 142 new COVID-19 cases on Friday and one additional death.

There have been 602 deaths in Spokane County residents due to COVID-19.

There are 59 patients hospitalized with the virus in Spokane.

The Panhandle Health District confirmed 27 new COVID-19 cases and one additional death on Friday.

There have been 299 deaths due to COVID-19 in the Panhandle.

There are 32 Panhandle residents hospitalized with the virus.

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.

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