‘The data are not going in the right direction’: Spokane Health Officer concerned about spike in COVID cases

Bob Lutz

SPOKANE CO., Wash. — Spokane County’s lead health officer said he is worried about the recent spike in COVID-19 cases.

On Thursday, the county reported 138 new cases, marking the third highest daily total since the start of the pandemic.

Dr. Bob Lutz said these high case counts have Spokane County’s incidence rate ranked as the highest in the state, more than three times that of Washington state as a whole.

“The data are not going in the right direction,” Lutz said. “We are seeing an increase in cases throughout the county from multiple sources which tells me people are not distancing, not wearing masks when they should, getting together when they shouldn’t, and not taking the threat of COVID-19 seriously.”

The Spokane Regional Health District is now working with the state Department of Health and Governor’s Office to study the data and determine what efforts need to be taken to prevent further increases in outbreaks.

“We have been working diligently with superintendents to start phasing children back to in-school instruction. We know that it is critical for children’s development that they be in school. It is also a way to ease the stress placed on parents and caregivers who need to get back to work,” Lutz said. “We need everyone’s help so that we can continue bringing children back to in-person school and opening the economy. We can do this by practicing physical distancing, limiting gatherings outside of our households, and wearing masks. I am very concerned, on the eve of a three-day weekend, that we will need to roll back recent easing of health measures in Spokane County, something I do not want to see happen.”

Large gatherings taking place during recent holidays led to increased incidence rates, hospitalizations and deaths in Spokane County. This happened three times this past summer; on Memorial Day weekend, the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekend.

“We have a false sense of being out of the woods or that the pandemic isn’t as prevalent in our county, and that couldn’t be further from the truth,” Lutz said. “We need to work together as a community, staying vigilant, and showing care and concern for others by following the health guidance – even when away from work or not in public.”

The SRHD is asking people to refrain from large gatherings ahead of Indigenous Peoples’ Day and during the upcoming Halloween holiday.

RELATED: 138 people test positive for COVID-19 since Wednesday; Spokane Co. approaching 8,000 cases

READ: What loosened COVID-19 restrictions mean for Spokane County