Community COVID-19 testing sites are set to open in Spokane County next week.
On Monday, the testing site at Spokane Falls Community College will open, Health Officer Dr. Francisco Velázquez told reporters Wednesday.
The other testing site will likely be located further east but the location has not been determined. Velázquez said partners are looking at three to four sites to offer community testing in the eastern part of the county, and that site will likely open later next week.
With the local health care system strained, providers are unable to provide testing on a large scale as was done previously during the pandemic. With the delta surge, testing has been hard to come by in Spokane County.
The community testing sites will be open during typical business hours and could be open longer based on demand.
The sites will open at a time when the case rates locally are decreasing, but still high. Spokane County has a rate of 671 cases per 100,000 people in the past two weeks.
Earlier this year in Gov. Jay Inslee’s reopening phases, having more than 350 cases per 100,000 residents in a large county kept you in Phase 1, the most restrictive phase.
COVID-19 case rates in all age groups are declining in Washington state, a welcome sign after months of a significant delta surge.
Hospitalizations are also decreasing, albeit more slowly, and hospital capacity still remains very tight statewide.
As of Tuesday, there were 1,143 patients with COVID-19 hospitalized statewide, and hospitalization levels are now about where they peaked during last winter’s surge.
Kids ages 5 to 12 will be eligible for the vaccine likely in early November, state officials said Wednesday, and so far more than 77% of the state’s population 12 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
In Spokane County, 64% of the eligible population has received at least one dose of a vaccine.
The vast majority of hospitalized patients continue to be people who are unvaccinated.
During September in Washington, people ages 12 to 64 who were unvaccinated were 19 times more likely to be hospitalized for the virus than fully vaccinated people.
Kootenai Health has seen some declines in COVID hospitalizations this week; down from their peak of 150 patients last week, there are 122 COVID patients hospitalized for the virus.
But Dr. Robert Scoggins, the ICU medical director at Kootenai Health said, this is still a “ridiculous number” of patients for a weary team of health care workers to be treating.
As more people in North Idaho test positive in recent weeks, hospital officials expect to see some new hospital admissions in the coming weeks.
However, Scoggins said he hopes last week marked the real peak of COVID patients.
“I’m hoping it’s a peak,” he said. “I think this is drawn out by many of the events that occurred in North Idaho in late summer and school starting, and I think that’s driven some of the admissions we’ve seen.”
Here’s a look at local numbers
The Spokane Regional Health District reported 219 new cases and one additional death Tuesday.
There have been 876 deaths due to COVID-19 in Spokane County residents.
There are 163 patients with COVID-19 in Spokane hospitals.
The Panhandle Health District reported 320 new COVID-19 cases and still has 3,154 cases backlogged.
There are 144 Panhandle residents hospitalized with the virus.
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