SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. — Spokane County Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz said on Friday that Spokane County's coronavirus incidence rate is three times that of Washington state as a whole.
Spokane County's incidence is the highest out of any county in the state.
“The data are not going in the right direction,” Lutz said in a press release. “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.”
Lutz said in an interview with KREM that all areas of Spokane County are seeing a rise in cases, which is causing concern for public health officials.
"Certainly we have cases at Eastern Washington [University]. The honest answer is we've got cases everywhere, that's the more concerning [thing]. If you look at our incident rate, if you look at our cases, if you look at the fact that yesterday we reported 138 cases, our third-highest," he said. "We have cases at Eastern, but I have cases at just a variety of different settings."
Lutz said the Spokane Regional Health District has been working with local superintendents to start phasing children back into in-person learning. He also urged people to continue to social distance, wear face coverings and to limit gatherings.
The health district believes large gatherings taking place during past holiday weekends have been the reason for increased incidence rates, hospitalizations and deaths.
“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.”
Lutz said that if Spokane doesn't begin to trend downwards, additional measures may have to be taken.
"If we do not see a change in our cases, in our incident rates, that's something, an area I may need to address," Lutz said.
"It's a health officer order. What I'd be doing is looking at our data and determining where I believe those cases are potentially coming from and/or could come from in the future, and put a health officer order in place that would put restrictions on specific sectors or different activities," Lutz added.