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How is Blaine County Faring Amidst the Delta Surge?
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Friday, September 10, 2021
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

Northern Idaho hospitals have found themselves having to ration care, their backs to the wall with COVID-19 patients.

The Health and Welfare director has even cautioned Idahoans to stop bicycle riding—anything to stay out of the emergency room right now.

But, with 91 percent of its eligible residents vaccinated according to Idaho Health and Welfare, Blaine County is doing better than other counties in its region.

“Blaine County's vaccination rate remains higher than anywhere else in the state, which is a huge protection for the entire county,” said Brianna Bodily, public information officer for the South Central Public Health District. 

“We are still seeing an increase in COVID cases in the county, but the increase is not hitting as hard as other counties in our region,” she added. “This is especially remarkable when you consider that most of Blaine County's population is collected in a string of towns, compared to other counties in our region whose more rural set-ups help prevent the spread of disease.”

Children now make up about 27 percent of weekly COVID cases across the country, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. But, again, schools in Blaine County School District are seeing fewer cases compared to other school districts in the region, likely because of its mask mandate and other precautions the school district is taking to protect students and staff from the spread of disease, said Bodily.

On Thursday the Blaine County School District had nine students and four staff with COVID out of 3,316 students and 523 staff. Thirty-nine students were in quarantine—12 at the Middle School, nine at the high school and the rest at Bellevue, Alturas and Carey schools.

Bodily noted that local and regional hospitals are suffering staffing shortages and a shortage of open beds. Other hospitals that St. Luke’s Wood River and the rest of the hospitals in the South Central Public Health District relies on for overflow are not accepting any diverted patients or are accepting very few.

“All of this presents a troubling future for any residents who might need hospital care,” Bodily said. 

“The good news is that Blaine County's population often decreases after Labor Day as the busy season ends,” she added. “We are hopeful that will translate into few cases for your area and less strain on your hospital. However, the Delta variant is spreading so fast in our region it is possible Blaine County's cases will continue to grow.”

St. Luke’s Wood River has pledged to help out other hospitals in the area and it did accept two from St. Luke’s Magic Valley in Twin Falls via ground ambulance.

The patients did not have COVID, but that doesn’t mean the hospital wouldn’t accept COVID patients, said Joy Prudek, public relations manager for the hospital.

The Rev. Kathleen Bean and others spent Thursday making public service announcements encouraging people to get the COVID vaccine.

Meanwhile, the City of Sun Valley is examining a vaccine and mask mandate in the face of the surging Delta variant, and the City of Ketchum is considering policy recommendations that address the risk facing the community.

“We just want to keep people safe and businesses open,” said Sun Valley Council Member Jane Conard.

 DID YOU KNOW?

  • The research, which tracked those who received a first dose of COVID vaccine between December 2020 and March 2021 showed that those who got a shot were less likely to show signs of mild or severe depression than those who were not vaccinated.
  • Researchers wrote that it could be that these people were less fearful about getting infected or that they were quicker to get out and socialize following the vaccination. The study was published in the journal PLoS One.

  • More than 95 percent of those in the NFL are now vaccinated. As for college, Louisiana State University is mandating that those attending Tiger games this season have proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or a recent negative test. This in a state where only 40 percent of residents are fully vaccinated.

 


 

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