COVID-19 continues to sweep through Spokane County, with more than 1,000 new cases in the past four days.
The Spokane Regional Health District confirmed 433 new cases on Thursday, bringing the county total to 28,600. The district estimates that about 75% of the people who have been infected with the coronavirus since the pandemic began are now recovered.
Deaths from the virus have accelerated, following the increasing and now steady number of people hospitalized. Since Dec. 1, according to the health district, 124 county residents have died. That’s about a third of all deaths since last March.
The health district reported seven people died of COVID-19 on Thursday. There are now 399 recorded deaths from the virus in the county. Of those, 209 were associated with outbreaks at a long-term care facility.
Local and state health officials say it is still too soon to tell if the Christmas and New Year’s holidays will lead to another surge in cases and hospitalizations.
“We still have time to see how the holidays are affecting us, so we’re still waiting to find out,” Kelli Hawkins, public information officer at the health district, told reporters Wednesday.
While there was a slight dip in confirmed cases during the holidays, this week SRHD has recorded 200 or more new cases daily.
Statewide, as well as locally, COVID activity appears to have peaked in December, and could be beginning to level off.
State health officials credited the governor’s restrictions as the main reason for a slight decrease in COVID cases. These restrictions are set to expire on Monday when a new set of regionalized and phased guidance begins.
“All of these efforts are making a difference. We’re seeing that, but we need to keep up this great work,” Secretary of Health Umair Shah told reporters on Wednesday. “We should not fear COVID-19, but we need to respect COVID-19. It has been a formidable foe against which all of us have been fighting around the country, and if we respect it we will be best to come out of it on top.”
While there are some signals that virus activity has been slowed with restrictions, Spokane County hospitalizations continue at the same pace they have since late November. There are 125 patients with the virus being treated in Spokane hospitals. Since Dec. 1, 288 people have been hospitalized in county hospitals.
N. Idaho cases climb
Coronavirus activity has not slowed in the Idaho Panhandle cases, either.
The Panhandle Health District has confirmed well over 1,000 cases in the past six days. On Thursday, health officials confirmed 253 new cases.
Hospitalizations in the Panhandle have remained steady at high levels. There are 97 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the five-county region.
Kootenai Health has 88 COVID-19 patients, including 20 in critical care.
Ten more residents there have died, bringing the total number of people who have died from the virus to 191.
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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