SPOKANE, Wash. - The Spokane County Regional Health District has released a new set of recommendations as they anticipate the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
On Friday, March 13, Spokane County Health Officer Bob Lutz released the recommendation that all events and gatherings of 250 people or more be canceled or postponed for at least 30 days. This also extends to events where social distancing isn't possible. The effort to promote social distancing is being done to slow the onset and impact of coronavirus, according to Lutz.
This recommendation officially goes into effect at 5:00 pm on Friday.
However, the Health District is not currently recommending the closure of any area schools. School events of more than 250 people will fall under the same recommendation of cancellation or postponement, but classes will continue on for the time being.
The decision to not recommend school closures was made based on multiple factors, including "minimal evidence" that the virus is spread through young people, the effect that a sudden closure would have on parents and the lack of confirmed cases in the community. The greater benefit toward the effort of slowing the spread of the virus, according to Lutz, would come from the postponement or cancellation of of large groups of adults.
However, Lutz also noted that the situation is continuing to evolve and the Health District will continue to be in contact with school officials.
While no positive cases have been identified in Spokane County at this time, the Health District is preparing for that to change.
"I think it's an inevitability," Lutz said.
In Thursday's press conference, questions were also answered regarding the remaining patients at Sacred Heart who were transferred to the hospital for treatment. At this time, only one of the four patients remains in the hospital while the rest have been released.
Lutz also reiterated the recommendation that people use good health etiquette when around other people. This includes not touching your face, cleaning frequently-used surfaces, covering coughs and sneezes properly, etc.
There was no update available on the four Whitworth University community members who are currently being tested and monitored for coronavirus.