Elected officials in eastern Washington pushing for ‘slow reopening’ of economy

SPOKANE, Wash.– COVID-19 has left our economy in the dark for more than a month now.

People are anxious to get back to work, and elected officials in eastern Washington are pushing for that to happen.

“We believe we’re in a position where we could slowly start opening up our economy again,” Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward said.

Woodward said eastern Washington is vastly different than the west side of the state, and she cites the small rise in daily new COVID-19 cases as a promising sign.

Across the state, we’ve seen hospital visits for COVID-like symptoms drop.

Here in Spokane County, 12 people are currently in the hospital with coronavirus as of Tuesday, which is three less than the day before.

Woodward said that’s the kind of data they’re watching closely.

“That will be our guiding factor in how successful we are and when we get from phase 1 to phase 2,” Woodward said.

Woodward also pointed out how different the economy is on this side of the state.

“We don’t have big companies that can boost our economy like Amazon, Microsoft and Boeing,” Woodward said. “Our backbone of our economy is small businesses and that’s what’s been shut down.”

Woodward added that any decision to lift restrictions sooner would be done with extreme caution.

And if cases were to jump back up at any point, then they would put everything on hold.

“We don’t want to compromise the ground we’ve already made up, so we have to be able to also say, hey if this isn’t working, we’re going to hit the pause button,” Woodward said.

With that said, Dr. Bob Lutz of Spokane Regional Health said it’s still not clear how soon we can get back to normal.

“I wish I had an easy answer. I wish I could say tomorrow or next week, and what it’s going to look like, but we don’t know yet,” Lutz said.

Right now, Governor Inslee’s stay-home order is in effect until May 4th.

READ: Local mayors ask Gov. Inslee to consider making residential construction essential 

READ: Gov. Inslee suggests it’s unlikely Washington will be ready to reopen by May 4