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Providence tightens visitor restrictions as COVID-19 cases soar in Inland Northwest

Aug. 11, 2021 Updated Wed., Aug. 11, 2021 at 9:30 p.m.

Providence hospitals in Spokane and Stevens counties will tighten visitor restrictions starting Thursday, Aug. 12, due to the surge in COVID-19 patients and virus transmission in the region.

All non-COVID patients will be limited to one adult visitor per day. Anyone under the age of 18 is not allowed to visit anyone at the hospitals currently.

Patients in labor and patients younger than 18 years old may have two visitors per day under the new restrictions.

COVID hospitalizations have sharply increased in the Inland Northwest this month, and currently there are 190 people hospitalized with the virus among Spokane County hospitals and Kootenai Health.

Interim Health Officer Dr. Francisco Velázquez has no plans to issue a mask mandate, but he urged people to wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status.

Similarly, the Department of Health does not have a plan for a universal mask mandate; however, the governor has indicated that more restrictions could be coming if the current surge does not quell.

“At the end of the day, we as a community control how much do we need to do in terms of precautions, and each of us individually can make a contribution,” Velázquez said.

The case rate for the past two weeks is 401 cases per 100,000 residents, nearly double the rate since last week.

Hospitalizations are still increasing, and the county’s test positivity rate is 18.2%.

Transmission is occurring everywhere, including at gatherings, Velázquez said.

The state’s latest outbreak report shows clusters of cases tied to child care centers, retail, grocery, offices, bars and restaurants in the past week.

Vaccines and masks are the two best ways to slow transmission of the highly infectious delta variant. As of Aug. 9, 56.2% of eligible Spokane County residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. That means that less than half of the total population has received at least one dose.

To find a vaccine, use the state’s vaccine locator or call (833) VAX-HELP.

A look at local numbers:

The Spokane Regional Health District reported 218 new COVID-19 cases and four deaths on Wednesday.

There have been 698 deaths due to COVID-19 in Spokane County residents.

There are 117 patients hospitalized with the virus in Spokane.

The Panhandle Health District confirmed 168 new COVID-19 cases and two additional deaths.

There have been 338 deaths due to COVID-19 in Panhandle residents.

There are 76 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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