SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. — As coronavirus cases spike in the Spokane area, Mayor Nadine Woodward and county commissioners are holding off on their push to move into the next phase of Washington state's reopening plan.
The Spokane County Board of Commissioners sent a letter to health officer Dr. Bob Lutz on Wednesday, June 17, asking him to take “immediate action” in beginning the process of applying for Phase 3.
Lutz and other health leaders have said they will not support moving ahead in reopening until Spokane County's numbers improve.
The Spokane Regional Health District reported 81 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday alone, the largest single-day increase since the pandemic began. On Monday, health officials also reported the first coronavirus death of a Spokane County resident in their 30s.
“I go into July Fourth with some trepidation given that our numbers have exploded since Memorial Day," Spokane County Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz said on Monday.
In a prepared statement sent to KREM, commissioners said they are in "continuous conversations" with the Spokane Regional Health District and Gov. Jay Inslee's office about new cases of COVID-19 and hospital capacity.
"At this time, the Board does not plan to push for a move into Phase 3 for a couple weeks at least. Once the numbers start to look better, the Board will go ahead and make another request," the statement reads. "In the meantime, the Board urges everyone to take safety precautions and wear a mask."
Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward has been a vocal proponent of the county moving into Phase 3, but she now says she doesn't see that happening any time soon.
"I think we're going to be in Phase 2 for a while," Mayor Woodward said. "If the numbers are increasing in the way that they are, I just think that we need to stay where we are."
There has been discussion about moving the county back into Phase 1, but the mayor says that decision would ultimately be handed down by the governor.
"The governor did open the door to that possibility. We've seen that happen in other states. I hope that's not the case here, but we'll wait to hear from the governor," she added.
In a visit to Spokane last week, Gov. Inslee expressed concern about the uptick in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the county.
"Spokane is right on the verge of a very dire situation because of this pandemic. It's right on the verge of a runaway pandemic," he said.