SPOKANE, Wash. — With temperatures expected to climb near 100 degrees in the Spokane area, residents are facing fewer options for places to beat the heat amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In past years, the City of Spokane has opened cooling shelters at local libraries to offer refuge from the heat. But spokesperson Brian Coddington said these areas are not an option this year due to the closure of libraries aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.
Coddington said area shelters remain in operation for Spokane's homeless residents.
City spokesperson Marlene Feist added that the city has overnight space available for single adults and families, and encouraged those experiencing homelessness during the hot weather to access available 24/7 shelters.
Community Housing and Human Services staff say they've been in contact with local shelters to highlight the need for providing space to those that need to cool off at this time, Feist said.
Feist added that Spokane hasn't officially reached the threshold to activate cooling centers. According to Spokane Municipal code 18.05.020, cooling shelters will be activated when the temperature is forecasted to be 100 degrees or higher 3 days in a row or more.
Coddington said he is not aware of other cooling shelters operated by Spokane-area nonprofits.
Some KREM viewers have also expressed concerns about apartment buildings in Spokane shutting off air conditioning. City residents who are experiencing issues related to the hot weather can call 311 to escalate the incident for response, Coddington said.
Other options for beating the heat, including swimming pools, splash pads and movie theaters, are also unavailable in Spokane due to the need to limit gatherings in Washington state, according to Coddington.
Coddington suggested outings to lakes and rivers while observing six feet of physical distancing and wearing a proper personal flotation device.
Paddle boarding and other water sports are also in operation, Coddington said. Equipment is available for rent at various locations and should be cleaned by vendors in accordance with current guidance.
Coddington also mentioned shaded areas at city parks and the opportunity to enjoy Ben & Jerry's ice cream at The Park Bench Café in Manito.