Spokane’s top health officer says County still is not ready for Phase 3

SPOKANE, Wash.– 295 people in Spokane County have tested positive for COVID-19 just in the last 14 days.

So, where did those people get infected?

“I look at events around Memorial Day, I look at graduation ceremonies, and then I find unfortunately what we’re seeing is young people going out to bars,” Dr. Bob Lutz of Spokane Regional Health said.

About 40 percent of the county’s confirmed cases are tied to people that are 20-39 years-old. Many of them are not symptomatic, but they can easily spread COVID-19 without knowing.

Community spread is another key factor, holding us in Phase 2.

This graph below shows why.


The orange bars represent cases that are linked to other known cases. That’s a good thing, because health officials know where the virus came from in that case.

However, the blue in the bottom right is what’s holding us in Phase 2. It’s rising, and those bars represent cases that are not linked to another known case or outbreak.

That means there is community spread of COVID-19 in Spokane County, and that represents about 30 percent of new cases in the county right now.

Dr. Lutz also said protests over the last few weeks have not been a factor in the new rise of cases.

He said there are just five total cases linked to the May 31 protest, and he believes four of those people were infected before even attending.

We also know more testing means more COVID-19 cases. But, more testing should also mean more negative results. Right now, that’s not happening enough; about 5 percent of tests in the county are coming back positive.

The State Department of Health wants that to be near two percent, so the county also needs to test about twice as many people as they are now to get there.

“We just need to see positive trends, and right now, my trends are anything but positive,” Lutz said.

We know hospitalizations are the other key factor in reopening. Right now, 14 Spokane County residents are receiving emergency care for the virus as of 6/24. There are also another 14 out of county patients receiving care in Spokane.