Sunday, April 18, 2021
Blaine County Found to Have Multiple COVID Variants
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Kathy Boylston wears a face mask while working with Piper, an adoptable dog, at Mountain Humane.
   
Saturday, April 3, 2021
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

GRAPH BY PAUL RIES

Sixteen confirmed cases of COVID-19 variants have been discovered in Blaine County.

Twelve are of the California variant (B.1.429) and four are of the UK variant (B.1.1.7).

 
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Idaho reported 284 new cases of coronavirus on Friday for a total of 181,181. Three more Idahoans have died of COVID, bringing the total to 1,966. Four more Blaine county residents have tested positive for a total of 2,272 since the pandemic started.
 

They are the first to be discovered in the counties overseen by South Central Public Health District, which include Twin Falls, Camas, Cassia, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln and Minidoka counties.

“Blaine County has experienced quite a bit of travel in the last few weeks,” said Brianna Bodily, public information officer for SCPHD. “We've seen case numbers increase, and investigation shows that a significant number of those cases are directly connected to travel outside of the state. We also have quite a bit of tourism in the area, which exposes Blaine County residents to more risk of disease.”

 Simply put, Bodily said, the number is so high likely because more residents are being exposed to people with COVID-19 who live outside of Idaho.

“Now that we have variants in Wood River Valley, the variants will only continue to spread among the people living there,” she added. 

The discovery of the variants means that it’s imperative now, more than ever, to follow public health recommendations to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, said SCPHD Epidemiologist Tanis Maxwell.

That includes, wearing a mask when in public, washing hands often, staying home when sick, maintaining space between yourself and others not of the same household, avoiding large gatherings and getting vaccinated.

“Our COVID-19 case numbers are at some of the lowest rates we’ve since this pandemic started. Even with a variant in our community, we can keep those numbers low if we work together to slow the spread of disease,” said Tanis Maxwell, SCPHD epidemiologist. “As the vaccine is being made widely available, we encourage those who wish to receive one to sign up now and help reduce the spread.”

To date 95 variants have been discovered in Idaho. They include 50 UK variants, 43 California variants and two South Africa variants. No Brazil variants have been identified so far.

The UK variant spreads more easily and appears to be deadlier, as well. So far, the Centers for Disease Control has identified more than 11,000 cases of that strain in the country, with the most in Florida and Michigan. It accounts for 26 percent of all COVID-19 cases sequenced nationwide.

The California variant is about 20 percent more transmissible than the original virus and is found to significantly reduce the efficacy of some antibody treatments. It and another California mutant now account for 52 percent of the cases in California, 41 percent of the cases in Nevada and 25 percent of cases in Arizona.

Early research suggests the COVID-19 vaccines offer protection against the new variants. And health officials say vaccinating people can help put the kibosh on these mutants and prevent other mutations.

Happily, a little over half of Blaine County residents have been vaccinated. A little less than a third of all Americans have been vaccinated.

All Idahoans 16 and older are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. Local providers include:

St. Luke’s Wood River

Access appointments via myChart at https://mychart.slhs.org. Or call 208-381-9500.

South Central Public Health District

117 East Ash Street, Bellevue, ID 83313

www.phd5.idaho.gov/covid-vaccine/

Albertson’s Pharmacy

911 North Main Street, Hailey, ID, 83333

Schedule online: https://mhealthcheckin.com/

Valley Apothecary

201 N Washington Ave., Ketchum, ID 83340

Schedule online: https://www.ketchumpharmacy.com/

 Luke's Family Pharmacy

101 S Main St., Hailey, ID 83333

Schedule online: https://lukespharmacy.com/covid-vaccine

 State of Idaho Registry

The state of Idaho has created a new pre-registration system. By adding your name to the list, you are telling vaccine providers that you are interested in receiving the vaccine. Sign up at: https://covidvaccine.idaho.gov/

Questions? Call 208-737-1138 or 208-737-5965 for questions in Spanish. The hotlines are running from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekends.

Spanish translations can be seen at https://www.phd5.idaho.gov/Documents/Press-Releases/2021/4-2-2021_COVID-VariantSP.pdf

 

 

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