Coronavirus cases surge throughout the Inland Northwest as U.S. reports highest daily case spike

Health districts in Spokane and North Idaho reported record-high COVID-19 cases on Friday. 

There were 187 new cases in Spokane County. Hospitals are treating 62 infected patients.

Health officials reported 210 cases in North Idaho, where 47 people are in the hospital. The Panhandle Health District says the alarming surge of cases is creating backlogs and delays for contact tracers. 

Those contact tracers are so overwhelmed, they’re having to prioritize what cases they investigate. That means some people may not get a call. 

The goal of contact tracing was to warn people who may have been exposed so they can isolate and, in some cases, get tested themselves. Now, the PHD says the spike in new cases has made that job nearly impossible. 

Contact tracers have been forced to prioritize calls by age, to ensure people most at risk know they could be infected. 

Health officials across Idaho are pleading for help. 

Doug Doney, director for Southwest District Health, said, “We have to rely on everyone we don’t speak with to act responsibly on their own. That means isolating while waiting for test results and, if positive, warning all of their close contacts that they need to quarantine right away.” 

The coronavirus is shattering national records as well, with 140,000 new cases and 1,300 Americans losing their lives in just 24 hours. 

“Every state is essentially getting worse right now,” said Dr. Asish Jha, dean of Brown University School of Public Health. 

During a speech on Friday, former Vice President Joe Biden says the country will never be able to measure the pain, loss and suffering so many families have experienced. 

“We can’t save any of the lives lost, any of those have been lost, but we can save a lot of lives in the months ahead,” said Biden. 

Health care workers around the country are being pushed to the limit. This week, 22 states saw a record number of hospitalizations.

READ: North Idaho sees record-high COVID-19 cases with 210 people testing positive 

READ: Spokane sees highest single-day COVID-19 case spike since the start of the pandemic