COVID-19 data reporting is changing in the Inland Northwest.
Local health departments have transitioned away from a daily case count to a weekly rate, reflecting a change in how health officials look at the pandemic, focusing more on hospitalizations and overall transmission rates as opposed to daily case rates.
Starting this week, the Spokane Regional Health District is releasing weekly COVID-19 updates on Fridays. Earlier this month, the Panhandle Health District began releasing weekly updates on Thursdays.
The Spokane Regional Health District said its reasoning is to better represent transmission and risk level in Spokane County during this new phase of the pandemic.
“Due to the significant decrease in cases, positivity rates, and hospitalizations, we are making the decision to reduce the frequency of data updates, but keeping in mind that we will reevaluate if the situation changes,” a Panhandle Health District spokesperson wrote in an email announcing the change.
Similarly, the state Department of Health announced in March that it was only sending its COVID-19 bulletin once a week, although the state’s data dashboard is still updated daily.
Cases are on the rise again in the Inland Northwest and Washington state, but rates remain relatively low.
All five of the Panhandle’s counties – Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai and Shoshone – are currently in the “minimal risk” level. That means their seven-day rolling average is 15 or fewer cases per 100,000; their testing positivity rate is between 5% and 8%; and the regional hospital bed occupancy is between 75% and 90%.
According to the Department of Health metrics, Spokane County is considered to have “substantial risk.” That means that Spokane’s seven-day case rate is between 50 and 99 cases per 100,000. Spokane’s rate is 64.6 cases per 100,000, according to this week’s numbers.
This week’s numbersIn Spokane County, there were 350 cases this week. The case rate for the last seven days is 64.6 per 100,000.
The hospital admission rate is 1.3 per 100,000 for the last seven days.
Two more people died of COVID-19 in the last week, bringing the county’s total to 1,345.
The Panhandle Health District reported 112 new cases in the last week. There are currently two people hospitalized with the virus in the district.
No new deaths were reported in the last week.