Thursday, August 13, 2020
Blaine County Looks Good as Feds Tell Idaho to Step Up Fight Against COVID
Higher Ground Sun Valley’s Mose Duchano takes the temperature of KT Eammon prior to a summer day camp as the organization practices safe protocols to help keep Blaine County’s COVID rate at a low level.
Friday, July 31, 2020



Remember how Idaho made it onto the White House’s list of states in the Red Zone?

The Idaho Statesman yesterday acquired a document given to Idaho’s governor by the White House coronavirus task force. It recommends that Idaho significantly increase measures to fight the coronavirus.

Idaho keeps on trucking along with 567 new cases taking it well past the 20,000 mark to 20,246 cases, says Paul Ries. Twin Falls County now has had nearly twice as many cases as Blaine County with 25 new cases taking it to 1,171.

Not even officials at Central District Health in Boise had seen the document.

Idaho is one of 21 red zone states, having reported more than 100 new cases per 100,000 residents during the previous week. It takes 255 cases a day to reach that threshold, said The Statesman. Idaho’s current seven-day average of new cases is 488.7. It hasn’t been below 255 since July 2.

Idaho had 196 new cases per 100,000 population in the past week compared to a national average of 140 per 100,000. And it sailed past the 20,000 mark with 567 new cases on Thursday.

In addition, Idaho’s test positivity rate—the percentage of people testing positive out of those being tested—is above 10 percent. It was 18 percent last week, according to the White House, compared with the national average of 8.5 percent.

Happily, Blaine County recorded no new cases of corona-crud on Thursday. Its total remains at 567.

In addition, COVID-19-related hospitalizations exceed the initial peak in April.

The good news? Blaine County is not listed among either the red or the yellow counties.

The report recommended that severe measures be taken in 14 red counties, including Ada, Canyon, Kootenai, Bonneville, Minidoka, Payette, Cassia, Owyhee, Gem, Jefferson, Washington and Shoshone. Ada, Canyon and Kootenai County cases represent 76.3 percent of new cases in Idaho, the report noted.

It recommended less severe actions in 17 yellow counties, including Twin Falls, Bannock, Jerome, Bingham, Elmore, Gooding, Latah, Teton, Valley, Benewah, Franklin, Clearwater, Lincoln, Power, Lemhi, Bear Lake and Adams.

Just 13 of Idaho’s 44 counties, including Blaine, are in the green category.

The White House document recommends:

  • Masks be worn at all times outside the home in both red and yellow counties.
  • Social gatherings be limited to 10 people or fewer in red counties and 25 or fewer in yellow counties.
  • Bars and gyms be closed in red counties and that bars be closed in yellow counties while gym occupancy be limited to 25 percent.
  • Residents get take out or eat outside at restaurants in red counties; socially distanced indoor dining is considered okay in yellow.
  • Residents should reduce public interactions and activities to 25 percent of normal in red counties and 50 percent of normal in yellow.
  • Government should test workers in assisted living and long-term care facilities weekly and prohibit visitors in red and yellow counties.
  • Government should increase messaging on the risk of serious disease for those with preexisting obesity, hypertension and diabetes and recommend those people shelter in place in both red and yellow counties.
  • Labs should pool tests to increase access and reduce turnaround times to under 12 hours.
  • Government should provide isolation facilities outside of households for those who can’t isolate successfully.

The report also had additional recommendations concerning testing, including a move to community-led neighborhood testing, working with local community groups to increase access.

Other states in the red zone are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.

Gov. Brad Little has resisted calls for a statewide mask mandate, even though more than 30 states now have them. He also has kept Idaho in Stage 4 of its reopening, with no statewide limits on gatherings or closures for bars and gyms even though both the number of deaths, hospitalizations and deaths have been climbing.

Idaho had a seven-day moving average of new cases of 33.9 per day on June 2. It had a record high of 568.9 on July 19, said The Statesman.

A few counties have taken matters into their own hands. Blaine County and the cities of Sun Valley, Ketchum, Hailey and Bellevue now mandate masks, as do health districts in Bonneville, Kootenai and Teton counties. And Central District Health has closed bars, limited gatherings to 50 and required masks.

One American died every minute from COVID-19 on Wednesday as the national death toll surpassed 150,000, the highest in the world. Wednesday’s 1,461 new deaths was the nation’s highest single day increase since May 27 when it recorded 1,484, according to Reuters.

Closer to home Idaho recorded 567 new cases on Thursday, taking it past the 20,000 mark to 20,246 total cases. That's 1,024 new cases in two days. After posting its deadliest day ever with 11 cases on Monday, the state has seen nine more in the past two days, bringing that total to 177.

Twin Falls County reported 25 new cases on Thursday, bringing its total to 1,171.

Blaine County recorded no new cases, remaining at 567 total cases after recording one new case on Wednesday.

While Ada, Canyon and Twin Falls counties have been raging, two new counties have emerged as hot spots—Elmore, home to Mountain Home, and Bonneville, home to Idaho Falls.

More than 1 percent of Idaho’s 1.7 million population has now been infected with coronavirus. But between 50 percent and 60 percent would have to be infected before we reach herd immunity, according to state epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn.

The state reached a new high in hospitalizations due to the virus on Monday with 236 people hospitalized, according to KTVB. Fifty-one of them were in the ICU.


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