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Organizations scramble, adjust to check virus spread

Local institutions are rapidly adjusting on the fly after a series of cascading emergency announcements from state and national authorities mandating increasingly harsh measures to stop the spread of the new virus that has infected nearly 190,000 worldwide and killed more than 7,500 as it overwhelms some healthcare systems.

Preventing that kind of quick and overwhelming spread is what the new restrictions are all about.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced March 13 that schools statewide would close. Then Monday, he said restaurants, bars, theaters, salons and some other businesses would have to close, and he restricted public gatherings to no more than 50.

“If you’re thinking about having a group of 49 people in the same room, think again,” Inslee said, urging organizations and businesses to figure out how to limit public gathering as much as possible.


After consulting with state officials and other hospitals Monday, Coulee Medical Center, which has seen an influx of patients with respiratory symptoms, is looking for experienced health volunteers it can call on if need be. And patients who look like they might be infected with the virus will be checked in, then asked to wait in their vehicles for a call or text to come in and be seen.

CMC outlines a number of measures it’s taking in an advertisement on page 2.

Grant County

A total of seven confirmed cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, have been found in Grant County, “clustered” in the Quincy and Mattawa areas.

Grant County Health District said there are also “several additional linked, suspect cases under investigation.”

These “case clusters” in Quincy and Mattawa, are evidence of “community spread,” the GCHD said, and “it is likely that cases will be confirmed in additional Grant County communities in the next several days.”

“Staff are working around the clock to identify and put into quarantine all those who had close contact with these individuals,” a press release from GCHD said.

The Yakima Diocese of the Catholic Church said Monday that a priest, Rev. Alejandro “Alex” Trejo, pastor of Our Lady of the Desert Parish serving 800 families in Mattawa, had tested positive for the virus. He has been in Kadlec Medical Center in Richland since March 1, being treated for pneumonia, which the virus causes. Two earlier tests were inconclusive. The 48-year-old is scheduled for release to a private residence in a few days.

“With the increasing number of COVID-19 cases, GCHD urges Grant County residents to take very seriously the recommendations to limit social contacts and minimize the spread of COVID-19 in the community.”

Grant County has seen one death from the illness, for which it has received 36 negative tests with 41 more still pending. One of those is thought to be a “probable” positive test.

Those infected include five men and two women. Two are in the 19- to 40-year-old age bracket; two are 41-60, two are 61-80. One is 80-plus.

Daily updates will be posted on as well as GCHD’s Facebook page. Lincoln County has one confirmed COVID-19 case, Okanogan and Douglas had not had any by Tuesday afternoon.

Okanogan County Health District said 41 samples had been sent in for testing, of which 13 were negative. The county was still waiting on results for 28 more.


The Grand Coulee Library is closing until at least April 24, but people can still borrow items through the mail system, according to a March 13 notice from North Central Regional Libraries, of which the Grand Coulee Library is one of many branches.

“When schools are closed, our public libraries have always become gathering places for children and their families. As a result, there isn’t a way for us to remain open while ensuring the safety of our staff and members of our communities,” the notice, signed by Executive Director Barbara Walters. said.

More information on how to use the library’s mail system, online resources, updates, and more can be found at

Restaurants and bars

Several local restaurants are offering takeout services including Pepper Jack’s, The Fusion Cafe, La Presa, The Electric City Bar & Grill, and Siam Palace, the latter also offering delivery.

All three 12 Tribes Colville Casinos closed last night at 5 p.m. They won't reopen until April 1.

R&A Cafe, and The Hi Dam Tavern, didn’t answer the phone before deadline.

Bigger Picture

According to the Washington State Department of Health, as of Tuesday, there are at least 907 cases of COVID-19 in the state, and at least 50 deaths.

Gov. Inslee on Monday ordered that restaurants, bars, clubs, theaters, gyms, and other venues close until March 31, with restaurants still allowed to do take-out meals and delivery.

Inslee also said he is limiting gatherings to 50 people or fewer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommended no events with more than 50 people, and President Donald Trump on Monday recommended avoiding groups of 10 or more people.

According to Johns Hopkins University, there are 5,145 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States as of Tuesday, with at least 91 killed by the virus.


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