Uptick in infections leads to fifth wave of COVID in Spokane, North Idaho

SPOKANE, Wash. — Most regions of the country—including Spokane and Idaho—are seeing a rise in COVID cases. While the rise is nowhere near as bad as the peak earlier this year, the uptick does have health officials across the region concerned over another wave of the virus.

Across Spokane County, hospitalizations are still flat, but at Providence, between their two campuses in Spokane, they’ve seen an average of 20 people hospitalized because of COVID in the past two weeks — a slight trend upwards.

While cases across the county are nowhere near what they once were, data shows that within the past month, in Spokane County, they’ve seen a slight increase in cases.

“We are tracking the increase and we are increasing. We may not be increasing as fast as some other parts of the state or other parts of the country, but the reality is that our numbers have increased, our positivity has increased,” said Dr. Frank Velazquez, Spokane Regional Health District interim health officer.

As of Fourth of July across Washington, people who aren’t vaccinated in the 45-64 year age group are 20-times more likely to be hospitalized than those in the same age group who are vaccinated. Those over the age of 65 who aren’t vaccinated are 9-times more likely to be hospitalized than those in the same age group who are vaccinated.

In Idaho, since May, 94.7 percent of all people hospitalized with the virus didn’t get the vaccine.

“In early July, we were right around 15 people in the hospital, and now we’re seeing people in the upper 20s and 30 people hospitalized daily. It’s an unfortunate time, and we do hope that more people choose to receive the vaccine if they haven’t already,” said Katherine Hoyer, Public Information Officer for Panhandle Health District.

Kootenai and Shoshone County have historically had the most cases in the panhandle, which is why Hoyer says the region is primed for a new wave.

“With our low vaccination rate, a majority of our population is left completely vulnerable to catching COVID and knowing that the delta variant has a higher transmissibility the likelihood of us having more cases, if people do not get vaccinated is likely,” Hoyer said.

Dr. Velazquez warned that the pandemic is not over, but rather it’s entering another phase. Since both Kootenai Health and hospitals in Spokane County take patients from other parts of the region, they could see the number of patients continue to rise.

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