Mayor Woodward's Full Statement to the Public - March 11

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

We have reviewed the directives from the governor today and have been in contact with the Spokane Regional Health District throughout the day regarding current guidance for our community.


I have also just come from a briefing from the Washington State Department of Health regarding the steps taken today to limit the spread of coronavirus in our state and community.


Spokane is fortunate to not yet be realizing the extent of the impact other communities in our state and around the country have experienced.


While we are not there yet, we are stepping up our efforts to do our part to limit the spread of the virus to and in our community.


It is important to note that Spokane County does not yet have a confirmed case of COVID-19. Based on the guidance we are receiving, the important part of that statement is “yet,” so we still have the opportunity to be proactive.


As a city, we are collaborating with public health experts and are learning from the experiences in other communities.


Based on guidance from federal, state, and local public health experts we are urging everyone in the Spokane community to take immediate steps to practice social distancing.  


That includes maximizing telecommuting options, embedding social distancing into organizations by postponing non-time-sensitive meetings or conducting them virtually, and minimizing the chances of exposure to anyone with weakened or compromised immune systems.


We are continuing to gather information from health experts and other state and federal officials. At this time we have not established limitations on large social gatherings that is occurring in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties.


That could change in the coming days as we work with our government and public health colleagues to do what is best for the Spokane community. At this time, we are urging organizers of large social gatherings to review their contingency plans for postponing or cancelling events of 250 or more people.


The city is leading by example when it comes to large social gatherings. We have already postponed employee and volunteer programs scheduled for this week out of an abundance of caution and as a good practice to eliminate any unnecessary potential exposures to our employees and their families.


We are actively evaluating other upcoming city-hosted events. Additional information about the status of non-critical events will be announced in the coming days.


The city is following the state Department of Health non-pharmaceutical interventions matrix in characterizing its level of response. At this time in Spokane, we are at level 2 of the state’s 5 identified levels. That means, at the direction of the Spokane Regional Health District, we are operating under voluntary isolation and quarantine for those who are exhibiting cold or flu-like systems.


Any future action and movement to additional levels would be taken in partnership with public health.


Spokane is a community known for its events and festivals and we will take the steps necessary to protect our community and the long-term health of those events. That could include consideration of an emergency declaration allowing the city the flexibility to take any and all additional steps necessary to protect the public health.


Factors we are considering are:


  • Evidence of a COVID-19 presence in our community
  • Pattern of community transmission in other cities
  • Limiting the spread of virus to those with compromised immune systems
  • Emerging guidance from other government and public health colleagues.


As a city operation, we have issued the following guidance to city employees:


  • Avoid unnecessary travel and cancel or postpone non-essential meetings, conferences, workshops and training sessions.
  • Arrange for employees to work from home or work variable hours to avoid crowding at workplace.
  • If a face-to-face meeting with people is unavoidable, minimize the meeting time, choose a large meeting room and sit at least 6 feet away from each other; avoid shaking hands and hugging.


We are making arrangement for employees to work remotely if possible while maintaining the ability to provide critical public services.


We are asking the public to save the trip to City Hall by utilizing the city’s online payment and permitting options or visiting us online at or through MySpokane 311 app.


This is a developing situation and we expect additional information and updates over the next couple of days.


Kirstin Davis | City of Spokane | Communications Manager, Neighborhood & Business Services

509.625.7773 | cell 509.481.7223 | |