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Health Officials Urge Caution Over President’s Day Weekend
Friday, February 12, 2021



Blaine County continues to lead Idaho in new cases of coronavirus per capita, with a daily seven-day moving average incidence rate that’s triple that of the more populous Ada County.

While its average new case rate has dropped slightly, health officials warn that there is a risk for another spike because of increased visitation to the county over the past couple of weekends and the upcoming Presidents’ Day weekend.

“We’re investigating one small cluster, but that is small potatoes and certainly not the main cause of the spike in the area,” said Brianna Bodily, public information officer for South Central Public Health District.

“The spike still seems to be tied to tourism. Blaine County has A LOT of visitors right now. And people are still mostly reporting that they were infected by a friend, family member or household member, which indicates that plenty of people are still getting together without taking precautions like social distancing and mask wearing.”

The county continues to be at critical risk for community spread, according to the Harvard Global Health Institute’s metrics. That level merits such mitigation measures as stay-at home orders, shutting down  social gatherings, closing businesses and quarantines for visitors. But the valley’s leaders are hopeful that mandating face masks and encouraging social distancing can stem the surge, which has been going on for more than a month.

The problem is not unique to the Wood River Valley.

There are currently 11 outbreaks at seven ski resorts in Colorado, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. And there were nine previous outbreaks, with Breckenridge laying claim to eight.

In some of those cases, the mask mandate hasn’t been enforced in lift lines and base areas, as it has in Sun Valley. Colorado ski resort officials also have attributed outbreaks to partying and congregate housing.

Blaine County is averaging 56.5 new cases per 100,000 residents between Jan. 31 and Feb. 6, compared with 61.4 new cases the week before. And that doesn’t include second homeowners and pandemic refugees who have been hanging out in the valley this winter since their positive tests are noted in the county of their primary residence.

Madison County comes in behind Blaine County with 45.1 cases per 100,000 residents. And nearby Camas County also has a high rate of 38.7 cases per 100,000 people.

Blaine County’s positivity rate is 13.65 percent, meaning nearly 14 percent of those who are getting tested for COVID are positive. That is up from 12.52 percent the week before.

Idaho, meanwhile, is seeing its lowest test positivity in seven months.

Some of the symptoms are much more serious than a mild case of the sniffles.

Blaine County lost its 15th resident to COVID this past week—a female in her 70s who had been hospitalized.

St. Luke’s Wood River has two COVID patients right now. The hospital had five last week—the most it’s had since March, according to Joy Prudek, the hospital’s public information officer.

“So, people still need to take it seriously,” she added.

Those between the ages of 18 and 29 continue to have the most cases with 20 testing positive this past week.

There were 13 between the ages of 30 and 39 and 11 each in the 60 to 69, 50 to 59 and 40 to 49 age categories.

Nine people 70 and older tested positive, while there were seven positives between the ages of 14 and 17, five between ages 5 and 10, three between 11 and 13 and one between ages 0 and 4.

Happily, the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination starts today at select Walmart and Albertsons pharmacies, including Hailey’s.

The program brings an additional 5,000 doses to Idaho, increasing the state’s total weekly allotment to 30,000 doses. The 5,000 doses are slated to continue weekly as participating pharmacies eventually expand to 40,000 outlets.

The Hailey Albertsons should get 100 doses a week for the foreseeable future, according to the SCPHD.

And the Biden administration purchased 200 million more vaccines on Thursday that should give the nation enough vaccine to inoculate the entire country by summer's end.

About 34 million Americans have now received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine with 11 million receiving both. That’s 10 percent of the population.

In Idaho 160,360 people have received at least one dose. Among them, 3,635 Blaine County residents.

Health official credit vaccines in part to the number of new coronavirus cases nationwide declining from more than 300,000 a day to about 100,000 a day. Health officials also believe that the number of people who have been infected plays a role.

See how Idaho’s vaccines are allocated and distributed at


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