Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

COVID spike brings tickets, testing to Pullman


September 3, 2020

PULLMAN – A rural mobile medical clinic that visited county towns earlier this year is now parked in Pullman as part of an increased effort in COVID testing by Washington State University. The William A. Crosetto Mobile Health Care Unit visited rural towns at the beginning of the year providing comprehensive primary care and preventive health services. It is now parked by WSU President Todd Schultz’s house to test the influx of students who are believed to be responsible for the massive surge of COVID cases.

The Army National Guard unit that had been stationed in Yakima to help in testing there arrived this morning at the university’s request. According to Public Health Director Troy Henderson, the 25-member unit will set up a testing site by “apartment city,” and will start testing on Tuesday.

The new testing is geared toward the student population. Residents who wished to be tested should contact their primary care provider or hospital, Henderson advised.

According to Henderson, the testing is not mandatory.

The increase in testing comes as Pullman Police has toughened its response to large gatherings.

As of Sept. 2, the Pullman Police Department has issued 10 Nuisance Party infractions to party hosts over the previous six days, in response to the dramatic increase of COVID-19 cases that the Pullman community has experienced.

Chief Gary Jenkins said this is an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and reverse the trend of positive cases. Pullman PD first started with an education campaign and then found the need to begin an assertive enforcement stance on Nuisance Party violations, after the education portion was largely ignored. Pullman Mayor Glenn Johnson and leadership at Washington State University have expressed their support of the enforcement.

Chief Gary Jenkins told Pullman City Council during the Sept. 1 meeting that they are working on an update to city code. If approved by council during its Sept. 15 meeting, it will allow officers to ticket partygoers for alleged pandemic violations. Chief Jenkins said the change in city law is needed because party hosts are apparently collecting money to cover the cost of a ticket.

Nuisance Party is a local ordinance that prohibits anyone hosting or otherwise allowing a gathering/party and permitting certain activities at that gathering or party. Prohibited activities include endangering the health of others, or activity that is unreasonably detrimental to the public health. Violating Governor Inslee’s proclamation requirements or ignoring health department orders to wear a face mask, social distance, and not gather in groups of more than 10 constitute a violation of the Nuisance Party ordinance.

Of the 10 Nuisance Party infractions, nine of the violations occurred on College Hill, and one occurred on Sunnyside Hill. Violation of the Nuisance Party ordinance is a civil infraction, and violators are subject to a minimum $250 fine for a first offense, and minimum $350 fine for second and subsequent offenses.

Nearly 500 new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Whitman County in the span of less than two weeks. Almost all of the new patients are in the 0-19 or 20-39 age brackets.


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