Spokane’s rate of COVID-19 cases plummets, other data still improving

SPOKANE, Wash. — Fewer people are catching COVID-19 in Spokane County right now, and the rate of new cases has plummeted.

Most of the county’s COVID-19 data has been improving since mid-August, and that is impacting the local R-Number.

The R-Number shows how the virus is spreading in the community. So, for example, Spokane’s is currently just under 1, meaning each person with the virus is infecting less than one person on average.

That’s why Spokane’s rate of cases continues to decline. About 45 people are testing positive each day over the last two weeks.

In the first week of August, Spokane County had 223 cases per 100,000 residents. Now, that number has dropped to 109.

The end goal is to get under 25, and when that happens, schools have a much higher chance of holding in-person classes.

Health experts have credited county-wide face mask usage in public as one key reason for the drop in cases.

More testing is still needed, and now that is slowly improving in Spokane.

During the week of August 25, more than 3,100 people were tested in the county, and about 7 percent of those tests came back positive.

That rate of positive tests is down from July, when the county saw some weeks above 15 percent. The statewide positive rate during the week of August 25 was at 4 percent, which is right above the overall goal of 2 percent.

It’s not all good news as COVID-19 is still impacting older people the most.

The virus has killed 127 people in Spokane as of September 1, and all but two of those people were older than 50.

According to the state Department of Health, 82 of those people also lived in a long-term care facility.

Overall, the COVID-19 data in Spokane is encouraging, but it’s important to remember how quickly that can change.

That’s why health experts encourage people to keep wearing a mask in public, because it only takes an outbreak or two for that data to flip in the other direction.