SPOKANE, Wash. — Reports from the Washington State Department of Transportation show a decrease in the amount of traffic on interstates and highways around Spokane County due to social distancing.
WSDOT radars along I-90 from Medical Lake to the Washington-Idaho border showed decreasing amounts of traffic. Radars from Freya to Wandermere showed similar rates.
The department started tracking traffic flows on March 16, the day after Gov. Inslee’s announcement to close schools around the state.
Current rates are compared to average weekdays or weekends in February 2020.
Becky Spangle, a WSDOT traffic manager, said she continued to track decreasing numbers since Inslee’s announcement of school closures.
On the Friday following Gov. Inslee’s issuing of the statewide "stay home" order, Spangle said she recorded a 60% drop in traffic.
“It was very, very noticeable,” she said. “You could pull up cameras and see a significant decrease visually. These numbers definitely reflect people listening to that order.”
Health experts with the Spokane Regional Health district urged people to continue complying with stay at home orders and social distancing practices.
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“Some of these mitigating efforts that we’ve been encouraging or requiring will have an impact over the next few weeks,” said SRHD Health Officer Bob Lutz.
Lutz said the number of coronavirus cases in Spokane County could peak in late April or even into May, increasing the importance of social distancing.
“Social distancing means only seeing immediate family,” Lutz said. “It’s not extended family. It’s not your grandparents, and it’s not co-mingling with other members who you may not have seen. It really is just your immediate family.”