Wednesday, June 3, 2020
‘We Could Be in It for a Long Run’
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Thursday, April 2, 2020
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

He admits he doesn’t have the New York accent.

But Blaine County Commissioner Jacob Greenberg is striving to be the Andrew Cuomo of the Wood River Valley as the coronavirus pandemic plays out in the initial epicenter of the COVID-19 story in Idaho.

Greenberg plans to issue his own little morning briefings to give Blaine County residents a sense of what kind of progress the county is making, much as the New York governor has done in the past couple weeks.

“One of the things I want to get is an epigraph from public health district that shows the dates of positive results and the dates of when those tests were taken and when the people first started feeling ill so we have a good idea when the disease started and the peaks,” he said. “It’s been difficult so far  because we’re not getting information in timely fashion.”

What we do have, Greenberg said, is a doctor at the hospital who’s giving commissioners a situation report every morning, including how many people showed up to be tested the day before and how many of those people were actually tested.

“If 100 showed up and 70 percent of those got tested, that might be considered a high number,” Greenberg said. “If 50 showed up tomorrow and 40 of those got tested, that’s better. If we transport five to other hospitals on one day and all are COVID-19 related, I’d say that’s bad. But if we transport five and only two are COVID-19 related, that’s not so bad.”

“The information we’re getting to make decisions is slow because it’s taking so long to get the testing information back. It should not be that way,” he said, frustrated.

Greenberg asked the governor to impose an isolation order for Blaine County as soon as there was evidence of community spread, meaning someone had tested positive for the coronavirus without knowing where he or she was infected.

That order took effect on March 19. A week later the state issued a shelter-in-place order for the entire state after community spread was found in populous Ada County.

“We need to wait at least 14 days before we see how this is playing out,” Greenberg said. “Here in Blaine County I think initially some people had a cavalier attitude and that didn’t help. But I think people are really paying attention now.”

Greenberg has felt the effects of the pandemic close to his heart as he son and his family displayed many of the symptoms of coronavirus. Denied testing because they didn’t have a fever, they are recuperating.

“We’re working on additional testing for a variety of reasons,” Greenberg said. “I think the hospital has got a good system in place, a good group going with how they’re dealing with this. And I think we’re going to see some positive things from them real soon.

“But I don’t want to give anybody false hope about when this might settle down. We could be in it for the long run, and people have just got to be positive about what’s we’re doing. And then, when the time is right…we can begin looking at rolling back restrictions.”

JACOB GREENBERG’S INITIAL MORNING BRIEFING:

The County Commissioners have been providing information through the normal channels but I feel the need to do more. It is April 1 and typically a time for April Fools jokes. Some of you decided not to obey the self-isolate order. You went fishing in Challis. See what happened? Earthquake! STAY AT HOME PEOPLE! We are the James Bond of Counties. Shaken, not stirred!

 

On most mornings, I receive a briefing from Dr. O’Connor, Ambulance District Medical Director and ER doc on the front line of the Blaine County medical crisis. Those briefings inform my decisions including the call to have the governor issue a shelter-in-place order based on evidence of COVID-19 community spread. That action was swift and necessary. The state is now under a self-isolation order guided by the same trigger point.

 

We have been under this order since March 19th. You are really doing great at this. People are helping one another. There is community howl at 8 p.m. It is very therapeutic and reminds me of why we live here. This community is family. Resources are available for almost every need. You just have to look or ask.

 

Where do we go from here? Everyone is watching the news and the buzz phrase is “flatten the curve”. What that means is, that we don’t want everyone to get sick at the same time. The medical facilities simply don’t have the capacity for that. Between the situation reports and data provided by the Health District, we are gauging where we are on that curve and that will guide our way forward. When we see positive changes, we can address considerations to roll back restrictions.

 

What about testing? We are pursuing many new possibilities and I will keep you posted on what we find. We need to identify who is sick so that they remain quarantined in their homes, who has not had the virus and those who were sick and may have built up an immunity. That information will help to create the new normal. Businesses can develop work plans based on physical distancing and cleaning protocols, which can get people back to work.  I hope that time is soon.

 

I miss the hugs from my grandson. Those hugs recharge my heart. My Facebook account just brought up a video of him at age two, running through a rain puddle. I felt a lot of different emotions. I imagine you are feeling all of those too. One of them was joy. We have a lot to be thankful for. There are those in our community who are not as fortunate. Reach out and share. That is “the new hug!”

 

Be safe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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