Eighteen new cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus were confirmed in Spokane County on Sunday, continuing a trend of double-digit daily increases that health officials say is being contained through contact tracing.
“When we investigate positive cases, the result of reaching out to those who came in close contact is an increase in testing and possible discovery of more positive cases, many of whom may not have symptoms,” said Dr. Bob Lutz, Spokane health officer, in a statement Sunday. “They now know to self-quarantine to help keep others in our community healthy.”
The Spokane Regional Health District has reported 487 positive cases of COVID-19 in the county, 68 of which have been identified since Thursday. Some of those new diagnoses have occurred as a result of an apparent outbreak at the Philadelphia Macaroni Co., where all employees have been tested for the virus and the factory has been disinfected.
Spokane County was permitted this week to move to the second step of Gov. Jay Inslee’s phased approach to reopening. Mayor Nadine Woodward, who pushed, along with other elected officials, for Spokane to move more rapidly toward reopening, issued a letter of thanks to the community Sunday while urging citizens to remain safe.
“Our challenge now is to keep our businesses open and the community gradually and smartly restarting public life,” Woodward wrote in the letter, which the city of Spokane shared on Twitter. “That means exercising the same discipline you have shown.”
Woodward urged residents to stay home if sick, limit travel beyond the household and wear masks when visiting public places.
There were no additional deaths reported Sunday as a result of the virus. Since the outbreak began, 31 people in Spokane County have died after contracting COVID-19, according to the health district. Of those who have contracted the virus, about 3 in 4 – 73% – have recovered, the health district says.
The Washington Department of Health reported 19,828 confirmed cases of the virus as of Sunday afternoon and 1,061 deaths. In North Idaho, there have been 72 confirmed cases of the virus and no deaths, the Panhandle Health District reported Sunday afternoon. Idaho is scheduled to move to its next phase of reopening on Saturday.