Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Hailey Woman’s Coronavirus Diagnosis Triggers School Closures and More
Volunteers doused those attending Jamie Ford’s lecture at the Community Library Thursday night with hand sanitizer.
Sunday, March 15, 2020


Saturday’s announcement that a Hailey woman had tested positive for coronavirus triggered a cascade of closures throughout Blaine County.

And another Blaine County case was confirmed before the day was over.

Blaine County Schools officials announced Saturday that they would close all schools, including the BCSD Community Campus, for three weeks beginning Monday, March 16. Blaine County Recreation District’s FitWorks and the HUB will by necessity close since they’re located at the Community Campus. College of Southern Idaho is also located at the Community Campus. The Hailey Public Library and Senior Connection will close, as well.

Blaine County School District Board Chairman Keith Roark and Superintendent Dr. GwenCarol Holmes announced that all schools and facilities will be closed through Sunday, April 5. The schools were already scheduled to be out for Spring Break the week of March 23.

“We are working in coordination with the health district and decided in an abundance of caution to close schools,” said Roark. “We realize this will cause hardship for many of our families in regards to childcare and daily nutrition. We hope to announce plans for providing nutrition services soon.”

The Hailey woman, in her 50s, constituted the second confirmed case of coronavirus in Idaho. Idaho announced its first case on Friday. By the time Saturday was over Idaho had five cases of coronavirus, including another case in Blaine County--a woman in her 70s who is hospitalized and recovering. It is not yet known how she contracted the virus.

The first Hailey woman to be confirmed didn’t require hospitalization and has been recovering at home.

Investigators are still trying to determine whether she was exposed to the virus in the Wood River Valley or whether she got it during a two-week trip she recently returned from. An investigative team is tracing her movements to identify those she may have come in contact with.

They will contact those people as soon as they make those determinations, said Carissa Martin, a nurse with the South Central Public Health District. The woman is self-isolating at home right now.

“We don’t see as of right now any risk to exposure to the community,” Martin added. The biggest thing is trying to refrain from public gatherings where there’s a lot of people, using good handwashing practices, keeping yourself well if you’re sick and staying home if you’re sick. That’s the biggest thing that the community can focus on right now.”

Investigators initiated their investigation Friday night. The woman recently traveled to a neighboring state, but that state did not have confirmed cases while she was there. Officials would not identify which state she traveled to.

The woman stayed at home when she began developing symptoms, following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control. The Blaine County physician who attended her wore proper protective gear while evaluating her.

“The virus is spread across the globe now,” said Melody Bowyer, South Central Public Health District director. “We knew it would reach our corner of the world, and we took that time to prepare our investigation team. They are now working tirelessly to identify who might have been exposed and make sure they are evaluated.”

Officials announced on Friday that a woman in Ada County, also in her 50s, had been confirmed to have the novel coronavirus. Idaho State University officials confirmed on Saturday that the woman was a student attending the ISU-Meridian campus. University officials closed the campus for cleaning Friday.

The Ada County woman was tested after learning that three others who had attended a New York City conference she had attended had been diagnosed with the virus. She, too, had just mild symptoms that didn’t require hospitalization.

On Saturday a second Ada County case was confirmed of a man in his 50s under self-isolation recovering at home. Teton County also reported the case of a woman under 60 who had been in contact with someone with the disease in a neighboring state. She is at home recovering.

  • The Senior Connection will be closed until further notice. Those who need a meal should call The Connection at 208-788-3468. Homecare services will continue with modified schedules. The Senior Connection Friends Line will be available at 208-788-3468 from 2 to 3 p.m. weekdays.
  • The Hailey Public Library will close in conjunction with the school closure, Director LeAnn Gelskey said Saturday. Those with library cards can access books and magazines through such services as Libby and rbdigital. Go to www.haileypubliclibrary.org and click on eBranch.
  • The Blaine County Recreation District will continue to groom cross country trails, which got a big boost from Saturday’s snowfall.

But taking a break will be the HUB After School and Spring Break Recess, FitWorks, Pickleball, the BCRD gym, Adult Indoor Soccer and the Over 60 and Fit classes.

The Idaho Bureau of Laboratories had tested 163 people for the virus by Saturday afternoon; another 13 have been tested in private labs.

As of Saturday, 2,885 cases of coronavirus had been reported in the United States with 60 deaths.

Idaho officials say they expect to have multiple cases in Idaho but do not want it to be a cause for alarm.

“If you believe you have been exposed, make sure to self-isolate. If you need medical attention, call your healthcare provider in advance of a visit to discuss your symptoms and next steps,” said Elke Shaw-Tulloch, administrator for the division of Public Health. “Everyone doing their part to limit exposures and spread will help keep us all safe.”

For up-to-date information go to www.coronavirus.idaho.gov.


  • Watch what you touch. Researchers have detected coronavirus in the air for up to three hours. Viable virus has been determined to remain on cardboard for 24 hours and up to three days on plastic and stainless steel.
  • Fever appears to be the biggest difference between a cold and COVID-19. Consequently, the front-line defense against COVID-19 may be to screen people for fever using something like a non-invasive infrared thermometers that can be aimed at people’s foreheads. The country of Taiwan has managed to keep cases of the coronavirus down in part due to the use of such thermometers as people enter public buildings and even apartments.
  • Washing your hands remains another first line of defense. Wet hands before applying soap. Scrub for 30 seconds and dry thoroughly with paper towel before touching anything.
  • Stay home when you’re sick.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue and throw it away immediately. Or, sneeze into your sleeve if you do not have a tissue.
  • Clean your home, workspace and shared items.
  • Avoid unnecessary contact with sick individuals.
  • Keep six feet between yourself and others.

QUESTIONS? Call the South Central Public Health District hotline at 208-737-1138.






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