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Does Spokane County have a shot at staying in Phase 3? Math says probably not

Spokane County has already surpassed its limit for COVID-19 cases and is rapidly approaching the limit for hospitalizations.

SPOKANE, Wash. — On Monday, counties across Washington will be evaluated on whether they can remain in Phase 3 of reopening or be forced to go back to Phase 2.

To stay in Phase 3, large counties like Spokane must clear at least one of two thresholds: either have fewer than 200 cases per 100,000 people over a two-week span, or fewer than 5 hospitalizations per 100,000 people over a one-week span.

For the last evaluation, the data lagged by upwards of a week for both metrics. If the next evaluation had a similar lag, Spokane County would miss both metrics, as KREM calculated last week.

However, Governor Jay Inslee's office announced this week that there should be no lag in the next evaluation. Data up through Sunday, May 2 will be included in the state calculations.

Does that mean Spokane County has a chance to stay in Phase 3? It's possible but unlikely.

Based on the county's population size, we can calculate that the maximum number of cases Spokane County can have between April 19 and May 2 is 1,045. The maximum number of hospitalizations we can have between April 26 and May 2 is 18.

As of Friday, Spokane County has already far surpassed that case maximum. We've had 1,243 cases since April 19, according to the Spokane Regional Health District. This means that unless the state uses wildly different data sources from SRHD, we have no hope of clearing that threshold.

As of Friday, Spokane County has had 18 COVID-related hospitalizations since April 26, according to the SRHD dashboard. That means we have not yet passed our maximum. However, we can have only 8 more hospitalizations between now and Sunday. That's an average of fewer than 3 per day, and Spokane County hasn't had fewer than 3 hospitalizations in a day in weeks.

That all means it is highly unlikely that Spokane County will meet either criterion for remaining in Phase 3 and will be sent back to Phase 2 on May 7.

Inslee is expected to make an announcement about the phase evaluation on Tuesday, May 4.