Is Moving into Phase III Ethical for Spokane?

Angel Stacey | Staff Writer

“Doctor in face mask holding syringe with Covid-19 Vaccine text” by is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

City of Spokane officials have decided that it is time to move into the next phase on the “Recovery Roadmap”.  

“Choices about reopening are made are by looking at case rates per hundred thousand for the past few weeks. We have to meet certain benchmarks which are usually lower case numbers per hundred thousand and hospitalization rates of COVID patients,” said Maria Howard, an expert in philosophy and healthcare ethics who teaches at Gonzaga University.  

However, is it ethical for Spokane to move into this looser phase and does any concern remain about moving backwards in phases?  

“The concern is about overwhelming the hospital system. In December and January, the hospitals were really full and what we’re looking at now is really good hospitalization rates. A good number of the population has some level of immunity, [so] I think we are moving there reasonably. The movement of phase 3 is being done very carefully with good evidentiary basis for doing so ethically I think it makes sense,” said Howard.  

It is easy to become nonchalant about the current and future rules of the phases, but it is important to remember that they are set for everyone’s safety.  

“I think everyone is really fatigued but that said, the virus doesn’t get tired. So as much as we might want to go back to normal, we need to pay attention to the best evidence and what scientists have said. We need to be really cautious in terms of reopening and stopping of masking because we do know that there are new strains of these virus that are more contagious,” said Howard.  

In regard to Whitworth, students must realize that they are making a difference, even if that difference comes about by just wearing masks and socially distancing.  

“One thing I have been saying since the beginning of this is that one of the hard things about all of what we’re being asked to give up is that you don’t see those people who have not died or been hospitalized because you made those choices. It can feel like this is over but it’s not if we are not careful,” said Howard. 

Whitworth and Spokane alike have been setting guidelines and rules in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 while allowing people to live semi-normal lives amongst this pandemic.  

But what is the best thing for students and others living in Spokane to do in order to fight this virus?  

According to Howard, “This virus has become more contagious in order to replicate itself and what we can do to start to hopefully move forward is to get vaccinated. Its showing a 90% efficacy rate you are much less likely to develop COVID if you get vaccinated. The absolute best thing is to get that shot.” 

While Spokane – and Whitworth – are deciding to open back up, I believe that it is important to realize the risks that come alongside this choice. By getting vaccinated and staying updated during this pandemic, you are helping to keep others safe.