Spokane health board approves request to ask Gov. Inslee to speed up county’s reopening

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SPOKANE, Wash. — The Spokane Health Board voted unanimously Monday to send a letter to Governor Inslee, asking for permission to move immediately into phase two of the reopening plan.

The letter, signed by Spokane Regional Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz, cites the number of cases in Spokane County since the outbreak began. It says, “Given data, reflecting past and present COVID-19 status in Spokane County, hospital capacity and plans for case and contact investigation as presented in the attached documentation, it is my recommendation consideration be given to provide Spokane County a variance to move to Phase II of the Governor’s Safe Start Washington Plan.”

You can read the letter and those additional documents at this link.

It details testing capacity, disease activity, the readiness of the healthcare system and a plan for contact tracing within the community.

Other counties in the state have asked for variances which would allow them to move more quickly to Phase 2 of the Safe Start Plan. Those counties are much smaller than Spokane County, which has a population of more than half a million people. As it stands now, counties have to wait until at least June 1st to move into that next phase.

In recent weeks, Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward has joined the Spokane County Commissioners and the mayors of other cities in the county, saying this region should be able to move more quickly to phase two, based on the slow growth in case counts and low hospitalization rates.

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In a call with Spokane leaders last week, Gov. Inslee said Spokane would not be allowed to move forward at that point; county leaders have worked over the last week to prepare the request for variance.