Lutz's order does not cover regional public schools, he said. However, only hours later, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee ordered that all K-12 schools throughout the state be closed from March 17 until April 24, the Seattle Times reports. Inslee also ordered a similar statewide ban on events over 250.
"It is probably the one decision that will impact the most number of individuals across our community, both young people as well as adults, and businesses," Lutz said. "We already know that it's, for example, very challenging for people to find child care, so all of a sudden parents are having to stay home to care for their children, what do you do when they can't go to work? So the ramifications are significant."
Lutz also said that he considered mass gatherings to be a bigger public health concern than places where many people cycle through, such as courtrooms.
"I don't typically see 250 people or more in one courtroom," he said. "So for me, it's actually that congregate situation that is more concerning than the amount of people going through a space over a period of time."
While rumors swirled that the city of Spokane would be enacting an emergency declaration, Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward said at the press conference that she had "no announcement to make on that yet."
"I can speak on behalf of all the cities and the county too that we are working collaboratively on what our approach will be and how we'll address this," she added.
When asked about the number of people who have been tested for COVID-19 in the region, Lutz had no hard numbers, since individual health care providers are ordering tests at their own discretion.
"We really do not have a sense as to how many tests have been done, but we do get to see the reports when they come back," he said. "There is a lag time between when they're testing and when they come back."
Statewide, Washington's Department of Health reported 568 confirmed cases and 37 confirmed deaths as of Friday afternoon. Another 6,001 tests had come back negative for the virus, according to the department.
"It's this fine line that we run between having sufficient testing capabilities and overwhelming the system," Lutz said. "So my recommendation to individuals is that if you meet the criteria for having COVID-19, those symptoms that we're seeing are fever, persistent fever of over 100.4 degrees, cough, and or chest tightness, shortness of breath, those are symptoms that definitely warrant consideration. If those are in conjunction with other medical problems, such as breathing problems, heart problems, that really warrants you getting tested."
Contrary to some reports, the limitation on testing is not on specific test kits needing to be sent to hospitals. Doctors may take samples with a swab of the nasal cavity, throat, and/or sputum, Lutz said. Then those samples are sent to labs to be tested, and that's where some limitations are being seen, though Washington should be able to test hundreds of people per day.