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Omicron continues to spike in Inland Northwest as testing resources are strained

UPDATED: Tue., Jan. 25, 2022

A BinaxNOW rapid COVID-19 test made by Abbott Laboratories rests on a table at Pacific Lutheran University on Feb. 3 in Tacoma. Cases of COVID-19 continue to surge in Spokane County, which has recorded five straight days of new cases exceeding 1,000.  (Associated Press)
A BinaxNOW rapid COVID-19 test made by Abbott Laboratories rests on a table at Pacific Lutheran University on Feb. 3 in Tacoma. Cases of COVID-19 continue to surge in Spokane County, which has recorded five straight days of new cases exceeding 1,000. (Associated Press)

The Inland Northwest continues to experience record levels of reported COVID cases, in the midst of the omicron wave.

For five days in a row, more than 1,000 Spokane County residents have tested positive for the virus each day.

Health officials urge caution interpreting daily case counts, however, as staff shortages, a large amount of data and a planned update to the state’s reporting system on Tuesday means numbers will continue to fluctuate, and trends are more reliable to evaluate than daily counts.

Testing is still in short supply both locally and statewide.

The Department of Health currently has no tests available through its portal, which opened last week.

The department ran out of the roughly 650,000 at-home tests last Friday, and officials hope to have more soon. The department will update its social media channels when more tests become available.

Locally, the community testing sites at Spokane Falls Community College and the Spokane County Fair & Expo Center could only offer testing to people with appointments on Monday, due to staff shortages brought on by the spread of omicron.

The Spokane Regional Health District will update the public when drive-up testing is available again.

Four free at-home tests remain available by mail through the federal government’s testing program at special.usps.com/testkits.

Here’s a look at local numbers:

The Spokane Regional Health District reported 1,607 new COVID-19 cases and seven additional deaths on Monday. The district reported 2,623 new cases over the weekend as well.

There have been 1,186 deaths due to COVID-19 in Spokane County residents.

There are 168 patients hospitalized with the virus in Spokane hospitals.

The Panhandle Health District reported 453 new COVID cases on Monday and over the weekend, but there are 4,225 backlogged cases, indicating the continued impact of omicron on the region.

There are 88 Panhandle residents hospitalized with the virus, including 83 patients at Kootenai Health.

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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