COVID-19 is officially present on the Palouse.

The Whitman County Health Department received its first positive test result for COVID-19 in a Whitman County resident, according to a news release Sunday from the Whitman County Emergency Operations Center.

The patient, a woman in her 20s, has recovered and is self-isolating at home, the release said.

Whitman County Public Health Director Troy Henderson declined to say in what city the woman lives or where she works. He said he was not sure what her symptoms were because he did not have that information in front of him at the time.

Henderson said the woman was tested a few days ago. Whitman County test results come back from one of four labs in the state in one to seven days, depending on how much demand the labs are experiencing, he said.

Health officials are working to identify anyone who may have an exposure risk because of contact with the person, according to the release.

Henderson said the woman was not in contact with a large number of people. He declined to comment on whether she had traveled recently.

The release said the current risk of COVID-19 in Washington is increasing. As more people are tested, health officials expect to find more positive cases in Whitman County.

Henderson said the criteria for getting tested depends on a couple factors, including which medical facility a patient visits because some facilities might have more test kits than others.

He said healthcare professionals test people who have a combination of symptoms, traveled to a place where COVID-19 is prevalent, contacted someone with the coronavirus or are in a high-risk group.

For example, a first responder or someone older than the age of 60 who meets at least one of the aforementioned criteria might get tested before an otherwise healthy young person, Henderson said.

The release said those who believe they are at risk of exposure to COVID-19 and are experiencing symptoms, which include fever, cough or shortness of breath, are to call ahead before visiting a healthcare provider, urgent care or the emergency department.

No one has tested positive for the virus in Latah County.

Currently, no vaccine exists for COVID-19.

Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to

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