Tuesday, July 27, 2021
Idaho Offers Time Off and Free At-Home Tests as 5B Goes Green
Lee Dabney continues to sit behind a protective plastic shield, even though face masks are no longer required at The Community Library for fully vaccinated visitors.
Friday, June 18, 2021



West Virginia is offering those who get COVID-19 vaccines opportunities to win fully customized pickup trucks and hunting rifles. The state of Oregon: a chance to win either a million dollars or one of 36 $10,000 cash prizes and five 4-year college scholarships.

Idaho? Well, Gov. Brad Little just announced he is offering state employees who get vaccinated four hours of paid leave. And he’s encouraging private employers to do the same.

Blaine County’s curve has flattened, according to Paul Ries.

“The COVID -19 vaccine is our best tool to protect jobs, strengthen our workforce and save lives,” he said on Facebook.

While 82 percent of Blaine County residents are vaccinated, only 35 percent of Idahoans--or 634,909 residents--are fully vaccinated.

Idaho currently has the highest percentage of COVID-19 patients on average in their ICUs, along with Wyoming, Missouri and Arkansas, according to USA Today. All four states have vaccinated less than 40 percent of the population.

Those in the ICUs are much more likely to be young and unvaccinated than in the early months of the pandemic when those in ICUs tended to be older, the newspaper added.

Idaho’s new COVID-19 cases have nearly flattened but the state occasionally experiences a few hiccups. Statewide, 21 Idahoans have died of COVID in the past two weeks, bringing the death toll to 2,122.

That said, Idaho reported just 87 new cases on Wednesday, which is an encouraging sign. Other states with low vaccination rates, including Utah, have been seeing a rise in cases.


Anyone who experiences COVID-19 symptoms is still encouraged to get tested. And the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is now offering free at-home COVID-19 tests.

Tests can be requested by calling 2-1-1 or 1-800-926-2588. No personal information is being required, other than a name and mailing address.

“Reliable and widely available testing is a critical part of our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, said Elke Shaw Tulloch, administrator of the Division of Public Health.  “Combined with efforts to increase vaccinations, this important initiative can help to get us back to our usual way of living.”

Health and Welfare is working with VAULT Medical to provide COVID-19 PCR testing on saliva for individuals in Idaho. VAULT tests can be used whether a person has symptoms or a known exposure to someone with COVID-19. 

The test involves collecting saliva and mailing it to a laboratory that analyzes the sample. Saliva collection can be done in the convenience of a person’s home with the assistance of a trained VAULT Medical observer via a virtual Zoom visit on a smart phone or tablet.

To use VAULT tests, individuals will create an account on their phone or tablet using their email account. They will then contact a remote observer via Zoom and collect the saliva specimen as the observer watches over Zoom. The saliva sample will then be mailed to VAULT in a self-addressed, pre-paid envelope via UPS. Results will be provided electronically within 24 to 72 hours.

Test results are also reported to Idaho state or local public health departments by VAULT, per federal requirements for all COVID-19 testing.

 VAULT Medical is available to offer Zoom visits to observe saliva collection from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Sunday through Thursday and 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Anyone who experiences severe COVID-19 symptoms should follow up with their physician or go to the nearest emergency department, said Niki Forbing-Orr, public information officer for Idaho Department of Health & Welfare.


With a string full of zero new cases, Blaine County is now considered at minimal risk for COVID transmission, according to the Harvard Global Health Metrics.

The county averaged zero new cases per 100,000 residents from May 30-June 12. It’s test positivity is 0.39 percent.

Two weeks ago, the county was averaging 3.7 new cases per 100,000 hypothetical residents a week with a test positivity of 2.16 percent.

Only two new cases of coronavirus have been reported in Blaine County during the past two weeks, bringing the case number to 2,390.

But don’t let your guard down, said County officials. Approximately 25 percent of eligible residents remain unvaccinated so mask wearing and vaccination remains important.





~  Today's Topics ~

Harmony Hens-From Farm to Fork

Doctors Urge Vaccinations as Hospitals Fill

Blaine County Education Foundation Gears Up for School Year









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