Thursday, August 13, 2020
Health Officials Ask Idahoans to Push for Mask Mandate
Masked workers with Rico’s Authentic Italian Restaurant provided 450 pizzas and 42 lasagna dinners to Hunger Coalition clients since April to help those who were furloughed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Owner Rico Albright concluded the program this week.
Wednesday, July 15, 2020




Health officials representing St. Luke’s and other health care centers in the Treasure Valley called Tuesday for mask mandates to help stop the surging rate of COVID-19 cases in the Treasure and Magic valleys.

Idaho actually had a “good day” with just 316 new cases on Tuesday, compared with a few days of 500-plus cases. “We entered phase four a month ago with 3,353 cases—now we have 3.5 times that number and no sign of decline,” noted Paul Ries as he noted Idaho now has 11,718 cases of coronavirus.

Representatives of St. Luke’s, Saint Alphonsus, West Valley Medical Center, Primary Health and Saltzer called on Idahoans to contact government and public health officials to ask them to mandate face coverings. They also asked them to get serious about wearing masks, physical distancing, washing hands and practicing other recommendations to reduce the spread of the virus.

Idaho has seen at least three days of new cases of 500 or more during the past week. Cases have doubled in the past two weeks.

The state reported 316 new cases on Tuesday, bringing its total to 11,718. Blaine County did not report any new cases—its total remaining at 551.

One new death was recorded in Canyon County, bringing the total to 103.

Blaine County did not report any new COVID cases on Tuesday for the first time in over a week. The county’s total remains at 551.

Health care officials said that St. Luke’s and Saint Alphonsus are currently caring for 118 patients who have been hospitalized with COVID-19. They had only 22 COVID patients three weeks ago as cases began to surge with Idaho’s move to Stage Four of its reopening plan.

Representatives said they currently have the ability to treat for their patients but things could get dicey if Idaho is unable to rachet down the COVID spike.

A growing number of employees in the Boise and Nampa/Caldwell areas have been forced to self-quarantine because of the growing number of cases.

Saint Alphonsus, for instance, has 123 employees out for COVID-19-related reasons. It had just 25 employees out a month ago.

And the state lost its first health care worker to COVID-19 on Monday. The woman, a pediatric nurse practitioner, had worked for years with St. Luke’s and Saint Alphonsus before moving to Caldwell. She was in her 40s, making her one of the youngest Idahoans to die from the coronavirus.

Both St. Luke’s and Saint Alphonsus have considered that they may have to stop performing elective surgeries to ensure there is enough space and protective equipment to deal with the COVID crisis.

St. Luke’s CEO Chris Roth told reporters in a virtual news conference that he would like to see a more coordinated effort statewide. Right now, he said, each of the state’s seven regional public health districts are “all doing different things, they’re not coordinated, they’re not consistent, and we have a patchwork quilt of solutions as a result.”

That said, officials said they did not want to see something like the statewide shelter-in-place order imposed in March because some people delayed medical care during that time and now are dealing with bigger health problems.

Gov. Brad Little has declined to call for a statewide mask mandate because, he said, not everyone would follow it. And one Spokane TV station noted that Washington state residents are crossing the border into Idaho to evade the mask mandate Gov. Jay Inslee imposed a month ago.

Eastern Washington is seeing a surge of new cases.

Central District Health made masks mandatory in Ada County Tuesday evening, just hours after enters for Disease Control Director Dr. Robert Redfield said that if everyone in the United States would wear masks, the coronavirus could be stopped in its tracks in four to eight weeks.

Dr. Steven Nemerson , chief clinical officer for Saint Alphonsus Health System, told the health board that "the COVID train has left the station, it is moving and we are headed to become New York, California, Arizona," according to KTVB.

Three Wood River Valley cities—Hailey, Ketchum and Sun Valley—have made mask wearing mandatory in public places where physical distancing cannot be achieved. Other Idaho towns requiring masks are Boise, Driggs, McCall and Moscow.


Boise State University announced new guidelines for those attending Bronco football fans on the blue turf this fall.

BSU announced in an email to season ticket holders that they would be moving season ticket holders’ seats to allow for social distancing. Fans will be required to wear face masks at all times. And no bags will be allowed, except for diapers and medical needs.

The public fan zone in the tailgating area will be closed. And the university will create designated tailgating spots to enforce physical distancing.


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