If there's one thing you can always rely on here at Everyday Spokane, it's answering your questions with lots of research! Whether you're learning how to become a Washington state resident or learning about what renting is like in Spokane, when we answer your questions, we make sure to really answer them!
One reason we do this? We have the same questions as you do! With all of the coronavirus/COVID-19 news going on, we wondered: how is the coronavirus affecting Spokane, Washington? What should Spokanites know specifically?
Below, we're answering your questions about the coronavirus/COVID-19 here in Spokane. We've created a table of contents below with all of the questions we answer so you can click to be taken straight to that answer.
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Coronavirus/COVID-19 in Washington FAQ
Does anyone in Spokane have the coronavirus/COVID-19?
Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed 315+ cases in Spokane County as of April 2020. For comparison, in March, there were around 20 cases in Spokane. 19 people have died from the virus here in Spokane.
Given that access to testing has been sporadic or non-existent, it's likely that the number of infected people is much higher.
This number is changing daily, although recent signs have possibly pointed to a slow down or even decrease in numbers.
Keep in mind that many people will only have mild symptoms, like a fever, dry cough, and sneezes. Many people will prefer to weather this illness indoors and never get tested, although they may be suffering from COVID-19.
That's why this illness is such a problem and why we have to quarantine - even if you have a mild case of COVID-19 due to your age and/or health, those who are older or have underlying health issues will have a much rougher time if they get sick. They could go to the hospital, need ventilators, or worse.
Don't live in Spokane County? You can see the breakdown of positive/confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington state at the Washington State Department of Health website here.
What is COVID-19? Why is it called coronavirus and COVID-19?
According to Spokane Regional Health District, "Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is caused by infection with a new strain of coronavirus scientifically named SARS-CoV-2 and was first detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in December 2019."
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses usually associated with the common cold, and can be found in many animal species. Animal coronaviruses sometimes can infect people and mutate, allowing them to spread (this was the case of SARS and MERS). The coronavirus is not the flu.
Symptoms of coronavirus include:
- Difficulty breathing
Some people may experience much milder symptoms of COVID-19 and never even know they have it, including a runny nose and joint pain or body aches. If you've ever had the flu, some of your symptoms may feel similar to that although this is not the flu.
If you've been traveling to infected areas (particularly China, Italy, Iran, and Seattle!) and you begin to feel some of these symptoms, call your doctor and see if they recommend testing.
Note: You may need to be tested (and confirmed to have COVID-19) for some assistance programs. If you’re an Uber or Lyft driver, for instance, you must be diagnosed with COVID-19 or be placed under quarantine by a doctor in order to qualify for any financial assistance.
Symptoms can appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus.
Should I be screened for COVID-19 because the coronavirus is in Washington?
Our favorite primary care provider, Direct Primary Care, has an excellent video on what you need to know about screening for COVID-19. Basically: if you do not have any symptoms, you will not be tested. There are of course exceptions - watch below for more information.
Where can we get tested in Spokane if we think we might have COVID-19? Is COVID-19 testing free in Spokane?
According to Spokane Regional Health District:
“A COVID-10 drive-through screening site has been set up by the Spokane medical community and other partners at the Spokane Interstate Fairgrounds. Health care professionals from CHAS, Kaiser Permanente, MultiCare and Providence are screening individuals for signs and symptoms of possible COVID-19 exposure and, if needed, testing for the virus. ”
The drive through screening clinic hours are Monday-Friday 10 am to 5 pm, Saturday-Sunday from 11 am to 3 pm.
"If you do not have a health care provider or insurance nurse hotline to call, but meet the high-risk requirements for screening and testing AND have COVID-like symptoms, you are invited to visit the drive-through screening site. No one is being turned away from screening."
You can bring your insurance card with you, but those without insurance cards won’t be turned away.
In addition to the Fairgrounds, Spokane Regional Health District lists the following locations offering testing:
- MultiCare - MultiCare is currently offering free e-visits to anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms through MultiCare Virtual Care, where providers will also help people navigate to the next appropriate step. Use promo code “COVID19” at the payment page to unlock the free e-visit.
- Providence - If you have traveled to or from high-risk countries including China, South Korea, Japan, Italy or Iran within the past 30 days; or have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 and have a fever or respiratory illness (fever, cough or shortness of breath); you can schedule a Virtual Visit.
- Kaiser Permanente - Kaiser Permanente members can get care and advice by visiting kp.org/wa/onlinecare and scheduling an E-visit or by starting a Care Chat. Members may also schedule a telephone or video appointment at kp.org/wa. For questions about care or general advice, call the Consulting Nurse Service 24 hours a day at 1.800.297.6877.
- CHAS - People with concerns for their health related to COVID-19 can call CHAS at 509.444.8200 or 208.848.8300 for more information.
Is any of the COVID-19 testing covered by insurance?
According to the Spokane Regional Health District:
- Regence - Through a variety of convenient care options, Regence members can engage with providers without leaving home. Calls, video chats, and in some geographic locations, mobile care units are available to answer questions and concerns about their health and well-being. People can sign in to their regence.com digital account to see what options are available.
For other health insurance plans, there should be a hotline you can call for questions related to COVID-19. You can find this information on your insurer's website or on the back of your insurance card.
What Can and Can’t I Do in Spokane Right Now? FAQ
Can we really not enjoy restaurants and bars right now in Spokane, WA?
You can definitely enjoy restaurants and bars - as long as they offer take out! Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced in late February that gatherings of people in any public venue for the purposes of entertainment, recreation, food, etc. are prohibited.
This is to stop the spread of the disease. In general, public health officials are recommending you avoid gatherings of 10+ people (which is why restaurants and bars are closed) - but this doesn't mean you can't support your favorite bar or restaurant via online gift cards or no-contact delivery.
Check out this list of all the Spokane restaurants offering to-go or delivery alcohol, and visit this page from The Inlander for all restaurants offering to go or delivery options.
Updated as of April 21, 2020: The state of Washington may be able to open on May 18, depending on whether or not current social distancing measures are being followed and are working.
Update as of March 23, 2020: The Governor of Washington, Gov. Inslee, just announced 'stay at home' orders. According to KREM,
"The order means:
- Grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies will be allowed to stay open.
- Restaurants offering take out will also be allowed to operate.
- Private and public gatherings are barred, including weddings and funerals.
- People will still be allowed to go outside for activities such as walking or exercise, but are reminded to keep at least 6 feet distance from other people.
- Workplaces that can do their business remotely may remain open.
The state has posted a list of types of "essential industries."'
This does not mean the city of Spokane is under quarantine, just that people should be cautious and socially distance themselves when out.
What about schools in Spokane?
As of April 6, in-person classes will be canceled through the end of the school year, according to Governor Jay Inslee.
Luckily, Spokane Public Schools has a lot of resources on their website, including school closure updates, learning at home information, laptop distribution and more.
Wondering how much your student should be studying according to his/her grade level? Check out the Spokane Public Schools online resources section here!
You can find more information here about Grab & Go meals for children under 18 throughout the city - distribution is for breakfast and lunch and is from 11 am to noon.
Can I still take Uber and Lyft?
As of right now, Washington state is not under a ‘shelter in place’ rule, as is taking place in cities around the US. Shelter-in-place rules mean no one is really allowed to leave their homes unless it is considered ‘essential travel’ (i.e. healthcare workers, grocery store employees - and yes, Uber and Lyft drivers).
Since a shelter-in-place rule is not in effect here in Washington, you can still take Uber and Lyfts and not be penalized for non-essential travel. But you should truly try to avoid any non-essential travel anyway, both for your safety and others’.
What about events in Spokane? Are they all canceled?
For the most part, large gatherings in Spokane are canceled for at least the next two weeks to one month. This includes our beloved Bloomsday - usually scheduled the first week of May, Bloomsday 2020 has been rescheduled to September 20, 2020.
In addition, Hoopfest has also been moved to August 22-23, 2020.
Luckily, there are still plenty of free outdoor activities in Spokane and our top recommended easy hikes in Spokane here! (Note: state parks are currently closed, but you can still visit local city parks).
Surviving and Thriving in Spokane FAQ
What can we do to protect ourselves while at home?
The biggest thing we can do right now is to stay home if we can. If you work in an industry that has sent workers home, have the opportunity to work at home, or aren't currently not working - stay home as much as you can! This will prevent the spread of infection.
For those who do have to go out (grocery workers, health care workers, etc.) or for the times when you need to go out for groceries, practice good hygiene while out in public. Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue (and throw it away in a trash can!).
Cough and sneeze into your elbow, not your hands. Wash your hands often and use soap or water for at least 20 seconds.
Avoid touching your face, particularly your eyes, nose and mouth.
Regularly clean and disinfect high-trafficked surfaces at home, including door handles and remotes. It's spring - time for spring cleaning!
Take care of yourself - manage your stress, drink plenty of water, and eat nutritious food! Now is a great time to try out new healthy recipes, like these tasty, easy and healthy dinners below - I personally can't wait to try to Buddha Bowl!
In case we haven’t emphasized this enough: social distancing is key! We think it’s great to get outside in the fresh air and take a nice hike, but avoid people (I’m sorry, extroverts) and if you see someone on the trailhead, for instance, ahead of you heading your way, step off the path as much as possible and give each other a wide berth.
You won’t need a mask if you either stay inside and avoid people or go outside but give others lots of room if you’re on a busy trail. If your option is to go slightly off-path (generally a no-no) or get close to someone, step off the path.
Think of it this way: the sooner we can flatten this curve (aka get all of this under control and give our awesome first responders and doctors some literal breathing room in the hospitals), the sooner we can get out, get back to work, and celebrate. So don’t be sad: stay inside and learn some new things!
Should we have play dates during an epidemic?
According to Parents-Together.org, "From a contagion perspective, the less contact, the better. But everyone’s situation is different. A household with a single parent working in a hospital and a toddler whose daycare is closed will need very different arrangements from a household with two parents working from home who can share childcare for school-aged kids."
Basically, you should do as much as you can to stop unnecessary social contact - which includes play dates.
However, if you do need to be in contact with other families, Parents-Together.org suggests you:
- Avoid group events
- Keep gatherings as small as possible
- Be careful especially if anyone in your household is in a 'high risk' group - i.e. if Grandma or Grandpa live with you or see you regularly
- Be careful if anyone (including the children) is sick
- Don't share food
- Limit physical contact
- Go outside! But avoid playgrounds
- Wash your hands and make sure your children do as well
There are plenty of fun indoor activities you can enjoy, however!
How can I talk to my children about the coronavirus?
I'm glad you asked - what kids are hearing on the news right now might be overwhelming, and depending on your child's age, it might be hard to distill all this information into something they can understand.
Luckily, National Public Radio has put together this comic for kids worried about the coronavirus. It explains it in a great, easy to understand way - I even learned something!
In addition to the comic, the Washington Office of Public Instruction has some handy tips for talking to kids about school closures and COVID-19, including making yourself available, remaining calm, and more.
Help! The whole family is bored! What can we do?
Great question! It’s easy to feel stir-crazy when you’ve been inside too long - I work from home, I definitely know! That said, here are some fun things you can do to make this whole thing less stressful or boring:
- Take the Quaranteam Challenge! A few Spokane parents started this challenge online, and any family can join in. Best of all? You can do all of these challenges while social distancing!
According to KXLY, “Essentially, there’s a new challenge each day. Families can sign up in the group to create the daily challenges. The challenges range from arts and crafts, to exploring areas in and around your home. The creators of the challenge said it’s an activity for all ages, and you don’t have to be in the Spokane area to join.” Learn more about it here!
- Get outdoors… even if you can’t go outside! Google Earth makes it possible to visit 33 different National Parks all around the US.
You can visit Arches National Park, the Grand Canyon, the Redwoods (one of our favorites!) and so many more. Check it out here!
- Kids Cooking Lessons! Erin Chase from $5 Dinners is offering free, Facebook Live cooking classes with kids here.
The latest cooking class they did was English muffin and bagel pizzas - an easy, tasty snack that your kids will love to put together and eat!
- Go to a museum… virtually! Google’s Arts & Culture collection has put together virtual tours and online exhibits with over 2,500 museums and galleries.
That’s right - in addition to famous museums like Musee d’Orsay and the National Gallery of Art, you can also visit other less famous (but no less impressive) museums like the Ohara Museum of Art (in Japan), the Olympic Museum in Switzerland, and many more.
You can find the whole Google Arts & Culture options here - in addition to the museums listed above, you can also virtually tour the Statue of Liberty, Taj Mahal and more.
For even more fun activities for the whole family, check out our 35+ super fun indoor activities for kids and adults!
What about visiting the library?
For now, all Spokane Public Library branches are closed until further notice.
How to Help the Spokane Community FAQ
The absolute best way to help the Spokane community at this time is to embrace social distancing.
The sooner we can get this virus contained, the sooner those scary numbers of infected drop, the sooner we can get back to normal life. Everyone should be practicing social distancing so we can get back to normal in April or May - not October!
Below are even more ways you can help Spokane stay strong and resilient!
How can I help the Spokane community financially during this time?
Support your local businesses by purchasing e-gift cards or ordering no-contact delivery. Some of the hardest hit industries will include restaurants, bars, hospitality - but even your favorite stylist, barber, crafter, artist, and photographer will be suffering.
The Inlander has put together an excellent list of restaurants around Spokane offering take out, delivery (or both) and has made the sheet editable - you can search by general area, type of service, or even search by your favorite restaurants.
This is a stop-gap measure - some restaurants are reporting that delivery hasn’t kept pace with the loss of in-person customers, but it’s better than doing nothing.
Use contactless delivery options like:
- Shipt - grocery delivery
- Postmates - restaurant, convenience story and more delivery
- Chewy - for pet products and food!
- DoorDash - restaurant delivery
- Seamless - restaurant delivery
As long as you are able, keep scheduling no-contact deliveries, keep buying gift cards to your favorite places, and ask your local small businesses how you can help.
Depending on what they need, they may ask for financial support, helping promote them on social media, encouraging friends/family to buy e-gift cards, etc.
If we want to avoid shuttered restaurants and small businesses in downtown Spokane, we have to do what we can now.
Note: One of your favorite small businesses is hopefully Everyday Spokane! If you’re a local business that isn’t feeling the pinch as much as other industries, consider advertising on our Business Directory!
According to our research, people are still moving to Spokane and looking for new doctors, dentists, realtors, CPAs, and many more local services. Learn more about advertising and get a special discount by mentioning this article!
How can I help the Spokane community, beyond financially, at this time?
Now is the best time ever to do spring cleaning in your house - you hopefully have a ton of cleaning supplies, some extra time - and maybe a few extra ‘bored’ helpers around the house!
But what are you going to do with all of the clothes your family has grown out of, things you don’t need, extras you bought but won’t use? Now is a great time to help out your community!
A few places you can donate to include:
- Union Gospel Mission - specifically clothes and household goods
- The YWCA - all kinds of things are accepted, including bedding, shampoo and conditioner, art supplies and more
- Mission Community Outreach Center - currently accepting clothing, housewares, diapers, masking tape, trash bags, and more
- Teen & Kid Closet - currently accepting kids and teens pants, tops, dresses, underwear, hygiene items. Sizes accepted include newborn through large adult!
- Spokane Humane Society - they are always accepting pet food, litter, bedding, laundry detergent and more!
While you can’t donate your books to the library yet, put them in a box and keep them to the side to donate to the public library when they are open again!
Although social distancing makes it hard to volunteer in-person indoors, there are several opportunities for you if you’d like to give back to your community!
- Deliver meals with the Greater Spokane County Meals on Wheels crew - if you’re healthy and able to drive, sign up to deliver meals.
- Become a foster pet parent - just because everything is shut down doesn’t mean that animals suddenly are housed and safe! Foster parents are always in high demand throughout the year, but especially now. If you have some extra room in your house and extra love to share, learn more about what it takes to become a foster care member with Spokanimal here.
- Donate to local food banks - this event we’re all experiencing may get worse before it gets better. Due to layoffs and general uncertainty, your neighbors may experience food insecurity over the coming months. If you have extra food, particularly canned goods, consider donating it to a local food bank.
If you’re looking for more ways to strengthen your community for less, check out this excellent article over at the Spokane Guild here: Top 10 Ways to Strengthen Your Community (For Less) During the COVID-19 Quarantine.
Although we’re living in unprecedented times right now, we as a community can get through this. Spokane has been through other tough times, including the fairly recent 2008-2009 recession, and we came out of that strong.
Let’s not let this epidemic decimate our hope, love and spirits during this time. Virtually lean on your community and your family/friends by calling, using FaceTime or Skype and connecting online. We’ll get through this!