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Coronavirus updates for Spokane County on April 21, 2020

The latest on the coronavirus outbreak in Washington state and Spokane County for April 21, 2020.

SPOKANE, Wash. —

Key facts:

  • 30 news deaths and 197 new cases overall reported Tuesday in Washington state. 
  • TOTAL: 682 deaths and 12,282 overall cases in Washington. 
  • 145,031 people in Washington have taken a test for coronavirus and 8.5% of those cases have been positive. 
  • Gov. Inslee said some elective surgeries, construction projects, and more outdoor activities could resume by May 4, but that Washington state is not ready to fully reopen yet.
  • 19 coronavirus deaths among 315 cases in Spokane County.
  • 59 people hospitalized in Spokane County to date and 12 remain hospitalized.

Read previous daily updates from April 20

Tuesday, April 21

5 p.m.: Second Spokane Veterans Home resident dies

A second resident at the Spokane Veterans Home died on Tuesday after testing positive for the novel coronavirus.

The veteran was hospitalized over the weekend, according to the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs. A total of 25 residents have tested positive since the first confirmed case at the home, according to a news release.

Of the 25, two have died, three are hospitalized and 20 are recovering at the facility, according to the DVA. At least 10 employees have also tested positive. 

5 p.m. Gov. Inslee outlines Washington state recovery plan

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said a few activities could return in the state on May 4 if data continues to show a downward trend in new coronavirus cases. 

Those activities could include elective surgeries, construction with some limitations, and more outdoor activities. 

Inslee also said Washington needs more tests, and until there is a COVID-19 vaccine workplaces will need to have physical distancing and protections in place for workers.  

3:20 p.m.

The Spokane County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to send a letter to Governor Jay Inslee to reopen the residential construction industry, according to county spokesperson Jared Webley.

"We hope to see some forward movement on resuming the construction industry soon, with worker safety at the forefront of those plans," part of the letter reads. "Please consider Spokane County a partner to you in this work."

You can read the rest of the letter below or by clicking here:

2:50 p.m.

The Spokane County Board of Commissioners announced Tuesday that it was seeking input on how to use different parts of approximately $90 million the county is projected to receive as part of the federal CARES Act passed in March.

According to county spokesman Jared Webley, the board has created an online survey for both people and businesses to share ideas and recommendations on how to use the money to restore the local economy.

"The Spokane County Board of Commissioners will take the input we receive from our regional partners, individuals and the business community to formulate a recovery strategy to restore our economy and get businesses open and citizens back to work," Spokane County Board Chairman Al French is quoted as saying in a release.

11:45 a.m.

Gov. Jay Inslee will address the public at 5 p.m. on Tuesday to lay out a plan for Washington state's recovery from the COVID-19 outbreak.

He will be joined by: 

  • Dr. Raquel Bono, director of Washington State COVID-19 health care response team
  • Lisa Brown, director of Washington State Department of Commerce
  • Dr. Kathy Lofy, state health officer, Washington State Department of Health
  • David Postman, governor's chief of staff
  • Molly Voris, governor's health policy advisor

10 a.m.

Spokane County Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz reported two new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday morning, for a total of 315, and two new deaths for a total of 19.

Twelve people remain hospitalized.

Though the numbers are encouraging, Lutz says Spokane County is not ready to reopen.

“Again, I continue to say our numbers are encouraging. They’re certainly flattening. They’re certainly slowing," Lutz said during a daily briefing. "We are still seeing cases, however, and still seeing hospitalizations. …We’re not at the point yet where we can back off, where we can really open.”

Lutz said he cannot yet provide an answer about when the region will reopen or what the process could look like, but added that those conversations are happening daily.

Meanwhile, Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward is pushing for a regional approach to reopening Washington state's economy where leaders could modify restrictions in areas where data supports it. 

RELATED: Spokane mayor pushes for regional approach to reopening Washington economy

Antibody testing begins at UW

The University of Washington Virology Lab is launching its coronavirus testing today. 

The lab has the ability to process thousands of tests each day. The blood draw must be ordered by a physician. 

This test is not only helping doctors understand more about the virus that causes COVID-19, but it also is a step in the direction of creating a vaccine.

The blood test identifies antibodies in a person’s system.

“We’re looking for the antibodies that the body makes when it has been fighting off this virus,” Dr. Keith Jerome, the head of UW Virology, previously said.

The blood test is different from the nasal or throat swab test which looks for the live virus. The swab test would show if a person currently is infected with the coronavirus, but it doesn't show if the person beat the disease. The blood test would find antibodies which would be evidence that the person had the coronavirus, Jerome said. 

Deal reached on parts of $500 billion virus aid

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer says an agreement has been reached on major elements of a nearly $500 billion coronavirus aid package for small businesses, as well as additional help for hospitals and virus testing. 

Schumer said post-midnight talks among Democratic and Republican leaders, along with Trump administration officials, including White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, produced a breakthrough agreement on the package. 

He said he hoped the package could be voted on Tuesday afternoon in the Senate.

RELATED: Schumer says deal reached on $500B aid; Trump tweets support