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Mask usage up in Spokane County, but COVID-19 cases aren't on downward trend yet

In the first two mask surveys, compliance was at about 60 percent, Dr. Lutz said. Two weeks ago, compliance significantly increased.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane Regional Health District Officer Dr. Bob Lutz said mask compliance in Spokane County continues to increase but coronavirus cases are not yet on a downward trend.

Lutz said the health district has done three mask surveys, and has encouraged mask usage and social distancing in a promotion in partnership with Greater Spokane Incorporated.

In the first two mask surveys Lutz said compliance was at about 60 percent. Two weeks ago, he said there was a significant increase.

“Over the weekend, we saw 93% of individuals were wearing face masks when going into retail,” Lutz said.

Lutz said the health district didn’t do a mask survey last week. They are planning to conduct them every other week.

“I definitely think just anecdotally, when I’m out I definitely see many more people wearing face coverings and really appreciative of that because it really is an essential piece for us going forward,” he said. “I think it is getting better.”

Even though there seems to be more mask usage, the coronavirus case numbers aren’t showing a downward trend, Lutz said.

“I would say maybe at this point, at least over the last week or two, we’re no longer seeing that rapid increase in cases,” he said. “We’re not on a downward trend yet. Before we get there, we actually have to see a plateau for a couple of weeks. So we are leveling off but we haven’t leveled off as of yet.”

Lutz said the county’s incident rate hasn’t been going up like it has been, which is an encouraging sign.

“That doesn’t mean our case count is going down as of yet,” he said. “We have a ways to go.”

Lutz also addressed the effectiveness of wearing a mask during a Facebook Live Wednesday morning.

He said wearing a mask is the best coronavirus protection we have. He explained that masks mostly “protects you from me" but also does a little bit to "protect me from you."

Lutz said the combination of wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing is our best bet in prevention because “nothing is 100% perfect.”