‘We are seeing our numbers increase’: Health officer says COVID-19 not ending in Spokane anytime soon

SPOKANE, Wash. — Health officer Bob Lutz said he does not see the spread of COVID-19 stopping anytime soon in Spokane County.

“I know Dr. Fauci was saying it will peak by mid-April. I think our numbers are concerning enough that I’m pushing for much later in the month, if not, maybe into May,” Lutz said.

Last week, Lutz said Spokane was not yet flattening the curve of the virus. He reiterated that thought in a press conference Monday.

“What I would suggest to you is that, whereas we are seeing less disease occurring in Puget Sound, we are seeing our numbers increase pretty worrisomely on over here on the east side,” Lutz said. “With respect to the epidemiological curve, it is on its steep accelerating phase.”

Lutz said there have been 6,000 tests administered statewide, but there is still a shortage of testing materials.

“We’re seeing numbers now that reflect infection from two weeks ago,” Lutz said.

Lutz said there was a technical issue with the reporting system over the weekend, so the number of confirmed cases sits between 116 and 136. He said he is going with the higher number, but did confirm there were no additional deaths reported since Sunday.

Either way, Lutz said the infection cannot be taken lightly and warned that the area could see social distancing measures in place for up to another two months.

“Hopefully, some of these mitigating efforts that we’ve been encouraging [and] requiring will have an impact over the next few weeks. But again, as I’ve mentioned before and as I continue to mention, we need to be in it for the next 30, 60 days very realistically,” Lutz said. “It’s much better to be overly cautious than to be cavalier and lighten things up too quickly.”

Lutz and mayor Nadine Woodward told reporters neither of them have had discussions with the department of health or the governor’s office about a statewide lockdown or enforcing medical martial law.

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