The region saw another sharp rise in COVID-19 cases Friday, including three new deaths. North central Idaho blew past 3,000 cases and the Lewiston School District registered its 100th case among its staff and students.

The number of cases in southeastern Washington also crept upward Friday, with 15 new positive cases in Whitman County for a total of 1,882 and four new cases in Asotin County for a total of 370. A Garfield County public health official did not immediately respond to a request for new cases Friday.

One of the new deaths was in Nez Perce County and two were in Asotin County, according to public health officials. The death in Nez Perce County was a woman in her 90s, according to Public Health – Idaho North Central District, and Asotin County Public Health Administrator Brady Woodbury said the two deaths there were both women over the age of 70.

According to the Public Health – Idaho North Central District, its five counties added 118 cases Friday, for a total of 3,099. The breakdown included 64 new cases in Nez Perce County, 27 in Latah County, 12 in Idaho County, eight in Lewis County and seven in Clearwater County.

Lewiston schools reported new cases in six students and two staffers, bringing its total to 100 since in-person instruction began this fall. More than half, 51, are still considered active. Three of the students with new diagnoses attend Lewiston High School, and one each attend Jenifer Middle School, McSorely Elementary and Camelot Elementary. One of the staffers was from the high school and the other works in operations, according to the school district.

Lewiston School District Superintendent Bob Donaldson enacted a mask mandate earlier this week to help combat the recent spread of the coronavirus at Lewiston schools.

The Lewis Clark Early Childhood Program confirmed that it will temporarily discontinue in-person services at its Lewiston site, but still offer services virtually. Executive Director Alice Weaver said the decision was made because of concerns that families may increase their risk of exposure to the coronavirus while traveling during the holidays.

Education services and family support services will continue to be offered online, and meal services will also continue, Weaver said. The program plans on resuming in-person services on Jan. 18 to allow families a two-week quarantine period after the New Year’s Day holiday, she said.

Vista Outdoor confirmed that it has instituted a mask mandate at its Lewiston ammunition manufacturing facilities after employees there contracted the virus, according to Fred Ferguson, vice president of public affairs.

“The CCI/Speer ammunition facility continues to operate under enhanced protocols and safety measures,” Ferguson said in an email to the Lewiston Tribune. “We have supported these employees and their families during these challenging times and will continue to do so. More recently, as cases across the country have spiked, we have added additional layers of safety protocols, including the use of masks. This protocol conforms with other major employers in the Valley and will support our essential operations. Vista Outdoor continues to evaluate and update safety protocols across all facilities as conditions change. We believe that this approach balances employee safety and the continuation of our essential operations. It’s on all of us to do our part to slow the spread and remain operational.”

The state of Idaho announced several new COVID-19 cases in regional assisted living facilities in its weekly report. The biggest increase was at Lewiston Transitional Care of Cascadia, which jumped from 12 cases last week to 27 cases this week. Four new cases were reported at Life Care Center of Lewiston, three at the Idaho State Veterans Home in Lewiston, one at Prestige Care and Rehabilitation - The Orchards in Lewiston, one at Brookside Landing in Orofino and one at Meadowlark Homes in Grangeville. No new deaths were reported at the facilities.

Mills may be contacted at jmills@lmtribune.com or at (208) 310-1901, ext. 2266.

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