Wednesday, November 25, 2020
Tool Helps Assess Thanksgiving COVID Risk
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Give thanks but take care this Thanksgiving.
   
Sunday, November 15, 2020
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

COVID GRAPH BY PAUL RIES

If you plan on going over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house this Thanksgiving, you should be in self-quarantine right now.

It’s advised that those visiting family members outside their immediate household self-isolate for 14 days prior to the big day because that’s the incubation period of the virus.

 
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Per capita, Blaine County is not doing much better than the rest of the state, says Paul Ries. Idaho surpassed 80,000 cases on Saturday with 1,519 cases bringing its total to 81,317. It gained seven new deaths for 759. Blaine County recorded five new cases for 1,080.
 

Of course, health officials are encouraging people to skip the traditional Thanksgiving gathering this year, and governors of Idaho’s neighbors--Washington, Oregon, and California—are discouraging interstate travel by asking those crossing borders to quarantine upon arrival.

Professors at Georgia Institute of Technology along with researchers at Stanford University have created an interesting COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool to help map out your likelihood of being infected with the coronavirus at Thanksgiving.

It shows, for example, that going to a 25-person dinner in Salt Lake City carries a 78 percent chance that someone at the table is infected with the virus. Attending a 50-person event in Boise carries a 68 percent likelihood that someone has the virus.

Blaine County’s current risk for 50 people is 81 percent and, just down the highway, the likelihood is 99 percent in Lincoln County, or Shoshone. But the risk for a party of 50 is less than 1 percent in Lincoln County, Nev.

The risk level in Blaine County lowers to 28 percent if you’re planning a gathering of 10 people.

A get-together with 10 people in Twin Falls poses a 45 percent risk. But a 100-person Thanksgiving Weekend wedding in Jackson Hole, Wyo., poses a 99 percent chance risk.

The data in the map is updated daily.  Right now, it shows that the prevalence of coronavirus is particularly high in Mountain West and Midwest states.

To work it, go to  https://covid19risk.biosci.gatech.edu/. Choose an event ranging in size from 10 to 5,000. Then click on the county you’re concerned about. The risk levels on the map change according to the number and county you plug in.

STUFFING BIG FEASTS

Some of Idaho’s neighboring states are now imposing travel restrictions as the coronavirus rampages across the United States.

California, Oregon and Washington are discouraging non-essential out-of-state travel and asking residents to self-quarantine for 14-days after returning from out of state. They’re also urging their residents to limit their interactions to their immediate household.

Idaho encourages but does not require a 14-day quarantine for those entering from an area with a high infection rate.

California just reached a million-case milestone, and COVID cases have doubled in Washington over the past two weeks.

In response California Gov. Gavin Newsom has issued guidelines for a pandemic Thanksgiving. No more than three households can gather together. Gatherings must be outside and under two hours. Attendees may go inside to use restrooms as long as they’re frequently sanitized. And, despite what you think of the election results, shouting is discouraged, as is singing, chanting.

It’s suggested that one person do the serving, while wearing a mask. And extra precautions should be taken if there’s a college student present, as they’re among the prime spreaders, right now.

Oregon has instituted a two-week freeze, which involves rolling restaurants back to take-out only, closing gyms and other public facilities and restricting social gatherings to six people. And New Mexico has imposed a two-week stay-at-home order, that state’s governor warnings the state is in a life-or-death situation that threatens to crush hospitals.

North Dakota has ordered a statewide mask mandate. And Utah has solicited the help of 200 traveling nurses, including 31 nurses from New York who are paying back the kindness Intermountain Healthcare hospital network showed last April when it sent 100 caregivers to New York City. The Beehive State is also creating a temporary nursing apprentice license so nursing students can work during the pandemic.

“If the possibility of 1,000 more people dying doesn’t grab you by the throat as it did me…there’s very little we can do to move you,” said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot as she called for lockdowns amidst a city that is averaging 2,000 new cases a day with a test positivity rate of 25-plus percent.

CANADA OFFERS A THANKSGIVING PREVIEW

Three weeks after Canadians celebrated their Thanksgiving holiday, the country saw a spike in COVID cases attributable to families and friends getting together. Several cities and provinces shattered single-day records for virus infections following the Oct. 12 holiday.

One Thanksgiving feast led to 10 COVID-19 infections, including three babies. It then spread to another household, infecting four more, and then to a workplace, infecting at least two more, according to CNN.

HERE ON THE GROUND

Many of Blaine County’s cases over the past couple months stem from small household gatherings and from people not quarantining when they’ve been exposed or have symptoms.

And—get this—a negative test doesn’t give you a hall pass, either.

“Wearing a mask protects in so many ways, including lessening the severity, if a person does get COVID,” said Joy Prudek, public relations manager for St. Luke’s Wood River. “That’s because a mask can reduce the viral load a person is spreading or potentially contracting.


 

 

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