‘This is a bump in the road’: Spokane County likely headed back to Phase 2 next week

SPOKANE, Wash. — Despite the increasing vaccinations and hope that comes with each shot, Spokane and several other counties in Washington are facing another setback.

It’s a setback of more restrictions in Phase 2.

“This is a speed bump,” Spokane Regional Health District Interim Health Officer Dr. Velazquez said. “This is a bump in the road.”

Spokane County is failing to meet both metrics needed to stay in Phase 3.

This also comes as 60-75% of COVID-19 cases in Washington are linked to the UK variant, according to the Washington Department of Health. That variant spreads more easily and is more severe.

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The county’s case rate is at 299 per 100,000 people in the last two weeks, which is well above the state’s goal of 200. Hospital visits are nearly twice as high as the state’s goal.

“I don’t want us to be disappointed about it,” Dr. Velazquez said. “I want us to be aware about it and make sure we take this as an incentive to do better.”

The restrictions of Phase 2 would force restaurants and gyms to return to 25% capacity.

High-risk sports like basketball, football and others could only train or practice, as no games or tournaments would be allowed. The number of people at low or moderate risk sports would also be trimmed from a total of 400 to 200.

The state will evaluate all counties on Monday, May 3 and the move back will become official the following Friday.

People younger than 50 represent 75% of Spokane County’s cases in the last week while people between 10 and 29 account for 41% of them.

The health district told us there is a rise in cases linked to youth sports, not so much the games and practices, but the activities before and after.

The State Department of Health also said unvaccinated people older than 65 are ending up in the hospital from COVID-19 at a nearly ten-times higher rate than vaccinated people.

“Vaccines really do provide a pathway to getting back to normal,” Washington Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah said. “We want to assure people are working towards that—getting vaccinated—encouraging loved ones to get vaccinated or even folks you don’t know.”

There’s also more proof of how well those vaccines work.

A real world study shows you’re 94% less likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19 two weeks after your second dose.

Health experts hope that data pushes everyone to get a shot.

“I can say for myself I’m 29, I am healthy, and for me, the biggest motivator is I do not want to be a carrier that transmits it to somebody who gets ill or hospitalized,” said Public Health Nurse Kira Lewis.