COVID case numbers continue to rise in NE Washington

(BRANDON HANSEN/Chewelah Independent)

THE VIRAL LIMBO: Stevens County sees 44 cases in the past two weeks, including ten over the weekend…

Due to a number of outbreaks in facilities and jails in the area, along with general spread, it appears case numbers are on the rise for COVID-19 in the Tri-County area. This corner of the state has seen 71 new cases in the last 14 days, and saw its third death from the virus since the pandemic began.

Over last weekend, ten new cases were confirmed in Stevens County including four cases in the Nine Mile Falls area. Two more cases were confirmed in Colville, bringing the total number of cases in the town to 69 since the pandemic began. Cases were also reported in Clayton, Loon Lake, Springdale and the Kettle Falls/Marcus area.
Chewelah still is relatively untouched by the virus with just five cases since the pandemic begun.

The troubling fact about these new cases is the growing number of caused by community spread, meaning NE Tri-County Health District contact tracers cannot determine where the virus came from.

Since Sept. 1, there has been 17 new cases from community spread. Seven cases occurred because people were in the same household as someone with COVID-19, 19 caught COVID-19 from some manner of social event, while three got the virus at work and 12 from travelling.

There were also 18 cases traced back to an assisted care center in Colville, and 16 cases – mostly from an outbreak in the Stevens County jail – from correctional facilities.

NE Tri-County Health District officials said they began to see upticks in cases primarily in Pend Oreille and Stevens Counties.

“The increase was anticipated following the Labor Day holiday but is still very concerning as we approach the reopening of schools,” a press release read. “At the end of August through the first part of September, we were following the state trend, seeing a decline in cases, and all of our counties were in the range of low rates of transmission. We have mentioned previously how quickly just a few cases can impact our communities, and unfortunately in mid-September this occurred. At present, Pend Oreille and Stevens County are back in the range of high rates of transmission.”

Since the start of the pandemic, the area has seen 312 cases of COVID-19 with Stevens County having the most, 195 cases.

The COVID-19 outbreak at Buena Vista Healthcare, a skilled nursing and assisted living facility in Colville saw 14 confirmed cases. Also on October 1, the health district recieved word that one of the residents of the facility passed away from COVID-19.

On September 21, health officials recieved word of its first case within the Stevens County Jail, located in Colville, Washington. Officials initiated a facility-wide testing of 33 inmates and 13 employees.

In total, cases identified in the facility were 15 confirmed cases all among inmates. The State Deployment Team is on-site and actively assisting the Stevens County Sherriff’s Office to safely isolate those inmates who have tested positive. NETCHD Health Officer, Dr. Artzis, is also in coordination with the State Deployment Team and Sheriff’s Office to assist in developing additional COVID safety measures specific to the unique needs of the facility.

At the end of September, the health district recieved word of a COVID-19 outbreak at the House of Lord Church located in Oldtown, Idaho. This resulted in five probable cases for the health district due to people who traveled across state lines to attend church.

According to the COVID Tracking Project which gets its results manually from state and regional health districts and not a national organization, a total of 202,040 Americans have died from the virus.

There have been over 7.4 million cases of the virus in the country. Currently over 30,000 Americans are hospitalized because of the virus.

Washington currently has 260 people hospitalized because of the virus and has seen 89,874 cases since the start of the pandemic.

On Tuesday, Jay Inslee announced new changes to restrictions which included the opening of libraries and movie theatres to limited capacity. The Chewelah Independent will have a larger story on these guidelines next week.