Southwest District Health Board of Health meeting format to change

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Southwest District Health Board of Health meeting format to change

CALDWELL, IDAHO –  The format of the Southwest District Health Board of Health meetings will be changed to limit the gathering size to ten people or less in order to comply with the Stage 2 Stay Healthy Order issued by Governor Brad Little on November 14, 2020. The next Board of Health meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, December 15th, 2020, at 10:00 a.m. at the SWDH Canyon Room, 13307 Miami Lane, Caldwell, 83607.

Board of Health members may attend either in-person or remotely.  In addition to limiting the gathering size to ten people or less, no in-person public comments will be accepted. “To ensure safety and integrity of the meeting space, an in-person public comment period will not be provided,” said Bryan Elliott, SWDH Board of Health Chairman.

These changes to the meeting format order were not made for the meeting held on November 17, 2020, due to the short time frame between the date of the order and the date of the regularly scheduled meeting.

The meeting format is detailed below:

Maximum attendance: In-person attendance at the meeting will be limited to 10 people, including the Board of Health members and SWDH staff. Face coverings that cover the nose and mouth will be required when physical distancing is not maintained.

In-Person Public Comment: No in-person public comments will be accepted.

Written Comment submission: Comments in response to an agenda item for a specific meeting date may be submitted and must be received 24-hours in advance of the applicable meeting to allow for routing and board member review. All messages will be shared with the Board and included in the public record. Comments in response to an agenda item for a specific meeting may be made two ways:

  • Via Survey Monkey link available on the agenda
  • Mailed to: SWDH Board of Health, Attn: Administration Office, 13307 Miami Lane, Caldwell, ID, 83607

View Meetings:

  • Online:  SWDH offers the opportunity to view the meeting through live streaming available on the SWDH YouTube page. Meeting videos are also posted on the SWDH YouTube page for viewing following the meeting.
  • In- Person Viewing: In-person attendance at the meeting will be limited to 10 people, including Board of Health members and SWDH staff. Face coverings that cover the nose and mouth will be required when physical distancing is not maintained.
  • Anyone unable to attend the meeting in-person is invited to view the meeting on their own device through live streaming available on the SWDH YouTube page.

Important information about the meeting room at SWDH:

  • Physical distancing of at least 6-feet is required in the SWDH Board of Health meeting room.
  • When physical distancing cannot be maintained, a face covering that covers the nose and mouth is required to be worn inside of the SWDH Board of Health meeting room. A face covering must fit close to your face without large side-gaps that cover the nose and mouth. Acceptable face coverings include cloth masks made of tightly woven fabrics, such as cotton and cotton blends and medical and non-medical disposable masks.
  • No in-person public comments will be accepted during the meeting.

Southwest District Health Board of Health meetings are held in accordance with open meeting law as specified in Idaho Statute. The regular Board of Health meeting schedule can be located online at https://phd3.idaho.gov and is posted in the foyer of the Caldwell facility. Regular meeting agendas are posted to the website and foyer 48 hours in advance of the meeting date. Notices of special board meetings and agendas can be found at https://phd3.idaho.gov and are also posted to the foyer of the Caldwell facility and are made available at least 24 hours in advance as required by statute.

The Idaho Open Meeting Law does not require the opportunity for public testimony or public comments at these open meetings unless a public comment opportunity is included as an agenda item on the agenda. However, public comments may be solicited in advance of the meeting.

Meetings held via telephone or video conference are in compliance with Idaho Open Meeting Law. The law permits a meeting to be held by telephone or video conference and requires at least one member of the governing body or the director or chief administrative officer to be physically present at the meeting location designated in the meeting notice. These communications via telephone or video conference among members must be audible to all persons attending the meeting. Providing an electronic link for members of the public to listen to the meeting is an acceptable means to allow those members of the public who cannot physically attend to listen to the meeting

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Media Contacts: 

Ashley Anderson          Ashley.Anderson@phd3.idaho.gov
Katrina Williams            Katrina.Williams@phd3.idaho.gov

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Adams County moved to health alert level yellow

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Adams County moved to health alert level yellow

CALDWELL, IDAHO – Daily incidence rates continue to increase across the majority of the district. Based on data available for November 8, 2020 – November 21, 2020, Adams County has moved to the yellow health alert level. The remaining counties remain at the red health alert level. The information used in determining county health alert levels is listed below.

ADAMS COUNTY – Health Alert Level: Yellow

Adams County move to the yellow health alert level, with an incidence rate of 1.35 daily new cases per 10,000 people which is decreasing . Many of these new cases can be traced to one cluster of COVID-19 cases. 100% of individuals who have contracted COVID-19 and were interviewed by SWDH epidemiologists can determine where they were exposed to the virus, which does not meet the definition of community transmission. There is no evidence of COVID-19 cases or cluster outbreaks in any Adams County schools.

CANYON COUNTY – Health Alert Level: Red

Canyon County will remain in the red health alert level due to an increasing COVID-19 daily incidence rate and an increasing positivity rate. Canyon County has a daily incidence rate of 7.42 daily new cases per 10,000 people which is trending up. Only 69.16% of COVID-19 cases have reported knowing where they were exposed, which points to sustained community spread. SWDH investigators are continuing to see cases exposed through social and community gatherings as well as in workplaces and households. Additionally, the test positivity rate in Canyon County has continued to increase to 19.48% which is concerning SWDH epidemiologists. Fifteen congregate living facilities are seeing cluster outbreaks. Some healthcare facilities in Canyon County are nearing capacity for inpatient and ICU beds and have concerns about critical care staffing. Some facilities are postponing elective surgeries to conserve resources. Additionally, multiple schools in Canyon County are reporting an outbreak or transmission within the school.

GEM COUNTY – Health Alert Level: Red

Gem County will remain in the red health alert level, due to an increasing incidence rate and increasing positivity rate. Gem County has a daily incidence rate of 9.03 daily cases per 10,000 people and a test positivity rate of 21.27%. Three congregate care facilities in Gem County are facing a sustained COVID-19 outbreak. 85.71% of new cases that were contacted knew where they were exposed to COVID-19, which is trending in the right direction but still points to some community transmission. Additionally, local healthcare providers are concerned with staffing shortages and hospital capacity. Multiple schools in Gem County are reporting sporadic, imported cases of COVID-19 with one school experiencing a cluster outbreak.

OWYHEE COUNTY –  Health Alert Level: Red

Owyhee County remain in the red health alert level, due to an increasing COVID-19 daily incidence rate, very high positivity rate, and evidence of community spread. Owyhee County currently has a daily incidence rate of 8.22 daily cases per 10,000 people, which continues to increase dramatically. Only 73.53% of cases can identify an exposure source, which is trending up but still points to community spread. Additionally, the test positivity rate is 28.94% which shows that COVID-19 is more prevalent in the community than our data shows. SWDH epidemiologists are seeing cluster outbreaks primarily from social and community gatherings. There were multiple sporadic, imported cases of COVID-19 within Owyhee County schools during the two-week date range with no evidence of transmission within schools.

PAYETTE COUNTY – Health Alert Level: Red

Payette County will remain in the red health alert level, due to an increasing COVID-19 daily incidence rate, as well as a high positivity rate. Payette County has a daily incidence rate of 6.86 daily new cases per 10,000 people which is increasing. Only 67.65% of confirmed cases know where they were exposed to COVID-19, which points to sustained community spread. SWDH epidemiologists are concerned by cluster outbreaks within local workplace settings, including Idaho and Oregon workplaces. Payette County has a test positivity rate of 21.96%, which is very high and shows that COVID-19 is more prevalent in the community than our data shows. Many Payette County schools are seeing sporadic, imported cases of COVID-19 with one school reporting a cluster outbreak.

WASHINGTON COUNTY – Health Alert Level: Red

Washington County will remain in the red health alert level, due to an increasing daily incidence rate and positivity rate. Washington County currently has a daily incidence rate of 9.14 daily cases per 10,000 people, which is increasing. The positivity rate for Washington County is 27.39%, which is continuing to increase. 68.18% of confirmed cases know where they were exposed to COVID-19, which is decreasing and points to sustained community spread. SWDH epidemiologists are seeing transmission occurring from social gatherings and spread throughout households. Multiple Washington County schools are seeing sporadic, imported cases of COVID-19 with no transmission occurring within the schools.

WEEKLY CASES BY SCHOOL DISTRICT

The following table represents data on confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases among students and staff where investigations began between November 15, 2020 and November 21, 2020.

The following table represents data on the number of staff and students currently in quarantine and isolation on the day the data are pulled and may not account for individuals who have been released from quarantine or are just entering quarantine.

Those in quarantine have been identified as a close contact of a positive case and are being asked to stay home for 14 days to monitor for symptoms. Those in isolation are currently positive for COVID-19 and are asked to isolate away from others for a minimum of ten days from the onset of symptoms to prevent further spread of the infection.

Region 3 data are available on the Southwest District Health website at: https://phd3.idaho.gov/covid19/. Please visit https://coronavirus.idaho.gov/ for statewide information. Questions may be directed to the SWDH COVID-19 Call Center Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at 208-455-5411.

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Media Contacts: 

Ashley Anderson          Ashley.Anderson@phd3.idaho.gov
Katrina Williams            Katrina.Williams@phd3.idaho.gov

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Fall and winter holiday guidance; COVID-19 safety recommendations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Fall and winter holiday guidance; COVID-19 safety recommendations

 CALDWELL, IDAHO  – Traditional fall and winter holiday gatherings with family and friends are fun but increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 (Coronavirus 2019) or the flu. Southwest District Health recommends following these everyday tips to make your holiday season safer:

  • Wear a mask.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live in your household.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Keep your immune system strong: eat healthy foods, exercise daily, and get your flu shot.

Any in-person gatherings with persons outside of your household are considered high-risk, given the rapidly increasing rates of infection across the country and Idaho. Southwest District Health recommends that you find alternative activities this year to protect yourself and your loved ones. If you do plan on attending in-person gatherings with people outside of your household, take these additional steps:

  • Limit gatherings to 10 or fewer people (learn more at Stage 2 Stay Healthy Order).
  • Bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups, and utensils.
  • Wear a mask and safely store your mask while eating and drinking.
  • Avoid going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen.
  • Use single-use options, like salad dressing and condiment packets, and disposable items like food containers, plates, and utensils.

If having guests to your home, be sure your guests follow the steps for those attending gatherings so that everyone can make Thanksgiving safer. Other steps you as a host can take include:

  • Have a small outdoor meal with family and friends who live in your community.
  • Limit the number of guests.
  • Have conversations with guests ahead of time to set expectations for celebrating together.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items between use.
  • If celebrating indoors, open windows.
  • Limit the number of people in food preparation areas.
  • Have guests bring their own food and drink.
  • If sharing food, have one person serve food and use single-use options, like plastic utensils.

Travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. If you do choose to travel:

  • Check travel restrictions before you go.
  • Get your flu shot before you travel.
  • Always wear a mask in public settings and on public transportation.
  • Stay at least 6 feet apart from anyone who does not live in your household.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your mask, eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Bring extra supplies, such as masks and hand sanitizer.

While we may not be able to participate in traditional fall and winter holiday celebrations, consider these other holiday activities:

  • Host a virtual Thanksgiving meal with friends and family who don’t live in your household. Schedule a time to share a meal virtually.
  • Have people share recipes and show their turkey, dressing, or other dishes they prepared.
  • Watch Thanksgiving Day parades, sports, and movies at home.
  • Find a fun game to play.
  • Shop online sales the day after Thanksgiving and the days leading up to the winter holidays.
  • Use contactless services, like a curbside pick-up, for purchased items.
  • Shop in open-air markets, staying 6 feet away from others.
  • Safely prepare traditional dishes and deliver them to family and neighbors in a way that does not involve contact with others (for example, leave them on the porch).
  • Participate in a gratitude activity, like writing down things you are grateful for and sharing with your friends and family.

Remember, everyone can make Thanksgiving safer. The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to celebrate with people who live in your household. If you do plan to spend Thanksgiving with people outside your household, take steps to make your celebration safer. Southwest District Health has published a helpful Fall and Winter Holiday Guidance document that may be found at https://phd3.idaho.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Fall-Winter-Guidance-Final-11.16.2020.pdf.

If you do not feel well, have a respiratory or gastrointestinal illness, or may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should not participate in in-person Thanksgiving festivities or Black Friday shopping. Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread COVID-19 or flu.

If you think you have COVID-19 and need a test, contact your health care provider for an evaluation immediately. If you do not have a healthcare provider, call 211 for assistance. Visit https://get-tested-covid19.org/ to find a COVID-19 testing site.

Region 3 COVID-19 data are available on the Southwest District Health website at https://phd3.idaho.gov/covid19/. Please visit https://coronavirus.idaho.gov/ for statewide information. Questions may be directed to the SWDH COVID-19 Call Center Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at 208-455-5411, excluding holidays.

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Media Contacts: 

Ashley Anderson          Ashley.Anderson@phd3.idaho.gov
Katrina Williams            Katrina.Williams@phd3.idaho.gov

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Southwest District Health Issues COVID-19 Public Health Advisory for Adams, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, and Washington Counties Advisory now in effect

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Southwest District Health Issues COVID-19 Public Health Advisory for Adams, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, and Washington Counties

Advisory now in effect

CALDWELL, IDAHO – Southwest District Health has issued a COVID-19 Public Health Advisory for the entire six-county jurisdiction of Adams, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, and Washington Counties. The Advisory, which took effect immediately, is prompted by the continued surge in case counts, increasing demands on the healthcare system, and a backlog of cases that have required public health investigators and contact tracers to prioritize incoming case work.

The surge in cases can be seen in the graph below. The graph illustrates the seven-day rolling average of confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases within the six-county region, available on the Southwest District Health data dashboard.

Southwest District Health has identified the top 5 exposure sources, based on data reported through October 23, 2020. TOP 5 EXPOSURE SOURCES: Congregate Living (Senior Living Facilities, Correctional Facilities, College Dormitories), Traditional Household (Single Family homes or Roommates), Travel (Primarily local (in state) travel in a car), Community Events (Primarily religious services and sporting events), and Social Events (Primarily parties and family gatherings). The data is illustrated in the bubble chart below.

Unlike public health orders, a health advisory is not a mandate, but instead, an advisement to the community regarding a significant public health risk, and includes associated strong recommendations for action. All residents are strongly advised to follow guidance provided in Governor Little’s Modified Stage 2 Stay Healthy Order.

The Public Health Advisory includes strong recommendations for individuals and businesses around personal behaviors and business operations. The advisory aims to ensure healthcare capacity so our loved ones and neighbors can continue to access the routine, urgent, and emergency medical care they need as well as the public health capacity to ensure close contacts are notified of their exposure, rapid testing is available to our high-risk populations, and once available, vaccine can be distributed and administered.

The advisory includes the following health and safety measures:

Individuals

  • Wear a face covering at all times around anyone who is not a member of your household when physical distancing of at least 6 feet cannot be maintained. The only exceptions are for children younger than age 2, people who have trouble breathing, people who cannot remove the mask without assistance, or people who are obtaining a service involving the nose, face, or head for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the services.
  • Work from home, if possible.
  • Minimize non-essential
  • Suspend visits to congregate living facilities.
  • Avoid social gatherings, including among family members who do not live in your household.
  • Anyone age 65 and older, or who smokes, or with a health condition that puts them at risk for severe outcomes, avoid close contact with anyone other than immediate household members except for necessary services, such as accessing healthcare.
    • Per the CDC, health conditions that put a person at a high risk include:
      • Chronic kidney disease,
      • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease),
      • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies, Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant, Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2), Severe Obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2), Pregnancy, Sickle cell disease and Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Outings/Activities/Places of Business

  • Businesses implement delivery/curb-side
  • Places of worship implement hybrid (in-person and virtual) or virtual services
  • Discontinue youth and adult sports/activities in which physical distancing is not possible
  • Discontinue school extracurricular activities of all types in which physical distancing cannot be maintained AND where physical distancing can be maintained but the activity requires increased breathing, such as choir and band.
  • Bars, restaurants, breweries/taprooms/wineries/distilleries – all patrons must remain seated while consuming food or drink or when otherwise remaining on the premises, except for when entering, exiting, or using the restroom; seating must be arranged so that tables are spaced at least six feet apart; and nightclubs may continue to operate as a bar but must comply with the requirements of the Stage 2 Stay Healthy Order.

Duration of Advisory

This advisory will remain in effect until a county has met requirements to return to the orange health alert level. This is typically indicated by a two-week case rate of less than 3.0/10,000 daily new cases along with other factors. If one of the three large hospitals, St. Luke’s, Saint Alphonsus, or West Valley Medical Center implement crisis standards of care as authorized by the State of Idaho, this advisory may include additional recommendations.

Questions may be directed to the SWDH COVID-19 Call Center Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at 208-455-5411.  Please refer to https://phd3.idaho.gov/covid19/ for the latest local numbers and data and https://coronavirus.idaho.gov/ for statewide information. To view SWDH’s Fall and Winter Holiday Guidance, visit https://phd3.idaho.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Fall-Winter-Guidance-Final-11.16.2020.pdf.

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Media Contacts: 

Ashley Anderson          Ashley.Anderson@phd3.idaho.gov
Katrina Williams            Katrina.Williams@phd3.idaho.gov

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Gem, Owyhee, and Payette Counties moved to health alert level red

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Gem, Owyhee, and Payette Counties moved to health alert level red

CALDWELL, IDAHO – Daily incidence rates continue to increase across the majority of the district. Based on data available for November 1, 2020 – November 14, 2020, Gem County, Owyhee County, and Payette Counties have moved from the orange alert level to the red alert level. Adams County is the only county remaining at the orange health alert level. The remaining counties are at the red alert level. The information used in determining county health alert levels is listed below.

ADAMS COUNTY – Health Alert Level: Orange

Adams County will remain in the orange health alert level, with an incidence rate of 3.53 daily new cases per 10,000 people which is decreasing. Many of these new cases can be traced to one cluster of COVID-19 cases. 94.12% of individuals who have contracted COVID-19 can determine where they were exposed to the virus, which does not meet the definition of community transmission which is less than 90%. One school in Adams County is experiencing a cluster outbreak with transmission occurring within the school.

CANYON COUNTY – Health Alert Level: Red

Canyon County will remain in the red health alert level due to an increasing COVID-19 daily incidence rate and an increasing positivity rate. Canyon County has a daily incidence rate of 6.31 daily new cases per 10,000 people which is trending up. Only 67.26% of COVID-19 cases have reported knowing where they were exposed, which points to sustained community spread. SWDH investigators are continuing to see cases exposed through social and community gatherings. Additionally, the test positivity rate in Canyon County has continued to increase to 17.83% which is concerning SWDH epidemiologists. Fourteen congregate living facilities are seeing cluster outbreaks. Some healthcare facilities in Canyon County are nearing capacity for inpatient and ICU bed and have concerns about critical care staffing. Additionally, multiple schools in Canyon County are reporting an outbreak or transmission within the school.

GEM COUNTY – Health Alert Level: Red

Gem County will move to the red health alert level, due to an increasing incidence rate and increasing positivity rate. Gem County has a daily incidence rate of 5.92 daily cases per 10,000 people and a test positivity rate of 15.38%. One congregate care facilities in Gem County is facing a sustained COVID-19 outbreak. 73.63% of new cases that were contacted knew where they were exposed to COVID-19, which is trending up but still points to community transmission. Additionally, local healthcare providers are concerned with staffing shortages and hospital capacity. Multiple schools in Gem County are experiencing cluster outbreaks among students and staff.

OWYHEE COUNTY –  Health Alert Level: Red

Owyhee County will move to the red health alert level, due to an increasing COVID-19 daily incidence rate, very high positivity rate, and evidence of community spread. Owyhee County currently has a daily incidence rate of 5.01 daily cases per 10,000 people, which increased dramatically. Only 67.27% of cases can identify an exposure source, which is very concerning and points to sustained community spread. Additionally, the test positivity rate is 21.64% which shows that COVID-19 is more prevalent in the community than our data shows. SWDH epidemiologists are seeing cluster outbreaks in workplaces, businesses, and through community gatherings. There were multiple sporadic, imported case of COVID-19 within Owyhee County schools during the two-week date range with no evidence of transmission within schools.

PAYETTE COUNTY – Health Alert Level: Red

Payette County will move to the red health alert level, due to an increasing COVID-19 daily incidence rate, as well as a high positivity rate. Payette County has a daily incidence rate of 5.37 daily new cases per 10,000 people which is increasing. Only 62.79% of confirmed cases know where they were exposed to COVID-19, which points to sustained community spread. SWDH epidemiologists are concerned by cluster outbreaks within local workplace settings, households, and from social gatherings. Payette County has a test positivity rate of 15.41%, which is very high and shows that COVID-19 is more prevalent in the community than our data shows. Many Payette County schools are seeing sporadic, imported cases of COVID-19 with one school reporting a cluster outbreak.

WASHINGTON COUNTY – Health Alert Level: Red

Washington County will remain in the red health alert level, due to an increasing daily incidence rate and positivity rate. Washington County currently has a daily incidence rate of 7.80 daily cases per 10,000 people, which is increasing dramatically. The positivity rate for Washington County is 19.86%, which is continuing to increase. 72.00% of confirmed cases know where they were exposed to COVID-19, which is decreasing and points to sustained community spread. SWDH epidemiologists are seeing transmission occurring within workplaces, households, and among healthcare workers in Washington County. Multiple Washington County schools are seeing sporadic, imported cases of COVID-19 with transmission occurring within one school. Additionally, we are seeing an increase in total hospitalizations in Washington County which is decreasing hospital capacity.

Correction from 11/11/2020 Health Alert Levels: No elective surgeries have been postponed by hospitals in Washington County.

WEEKLY CASES BY SCHOOL DISTRICT

The following table represents data on confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases among students and staff where investigations began between November 8, 2020 and November 14, 2020.

The following table represents data on the number of staff and students currently in quarantine and isolation on the day the data are pulled and may not account for individuals who have been released from quarantine or are just entering quarantine.

Those in quarantine have been identified as a close contact of a positive case and are being asked to stay home for 14 days to monitor for symptoms. Those in isolation are currently positive for COVID-19 and are asked to isolate away from others for a minimum of ten days from the onset of symptoms to prevent further spread of the infection.

Region 3 data are available on the Southwest District Health website at: https://phd3.idaho.gov/covid19/. Please visit https://coronavirus.idaho.gov/ for statewide information. Questions may be directed to the SWDH COVID-19 Call Center Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at 208-455-5411.

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Media Contacts: 

Ashley Anderson          Ashley.Anderson@phd3.idaho.gov
Katrina Williams            Katrina.Williams@phd3.idaho.gov

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Second Amended Release– No mask mandate meeting or vote scheduled Thursday, November 19, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Second Amended Release–
No mask mandate meeting or vote scheduled Thursday, November 19, 2020

CALDWELL, IDAHO – Our previous news releases incorrectly identified Channel 6 as a source of misinformation.  Channel 6 did not issue this misinformation and had reported accurate information regarding a neighboring public health district. Several media sources reported that the Southwest District Health Board of Health will hold a meeting today, Thursday, November 19, 2020, at 1:00 p.m. to vote on a mask mandate.

This information is incorrect. There is no Board of Health meeting and there is no mask mandate vote scheduled for today, Thursday, November 19, 2020.

Southwest District Health’s Public Information Team has reached out to these media partners to ask them to provide correct information and sent out information via social media channels to inform the public that no Board meeting and no mask mandate meeting is scheduled for today.

The Southwest District Health Board of Health met Tuesday, November 17, 2020, for its regularly scheduled Board of Health meeting. The next regularly scheduled meeting is Tuesday, December 15, 2020, at 10:00 a.m.

Questions may be directed to the SWDH COVID-19 Call Center Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at 208-455-5411. Please refer to https://phd3.idaho.gov/covid19/ for the latest local numbers and data and https://coronavirus.idaho.gov/ for statewide information.

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Media Contacts: 

Ashley Anderson          Ashley.Anderson@phd3.idaho.gov
Katrina Williams            Katrina.Williams@phd3.idaho.gov

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CYANOBACTERIA PUBLIC HEALTH ADVISORY LIFTED FOR LAKE LOWELL

Public Health Advisory

CYANOBACTERIA PUBLIC HEALTH ADVISORY LIFTED FOR LAKE LOWELL

Southwest District Health, in conjunction with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), has lifted the Cyanobacteria Health Advisory for Lake Lowell. The advisory was issued September 4, 2020.

DEQ officials monitor cyanobacteria and associated toxins where harmful algal blooms (HABs) are present and have confirmed that cyanobacteria levels at Hells Canyon Reservoir in the area of the Big Bar camping area have returned to normal and toxin levels are below the safety threshold.

Other blooms may exist on this waterbody that have not been reported to DEQ or the health district. Water users should always exercise caution around water bodies with visible slime or surface scum or a foul odor. High concentrations of toxin-producing cyanobacteria may cause illness to both humans and animals. Report any concerns to DEQ at 208.373.0550.

For more information about harmful algal blooms, visit DEQ’s website at http://www.deq.idaho.gov/water-quality/surface-water/blue-green-algae/.

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DEQ Media Contact

Emily Washburne              208.373.0550             Emily.Washburne@deq.idaho.gov

SWDH Media Contact

Katrina Williams                208.455.5317              Katrina.Williams@phd3.idaho.gov

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Payette County moved from health alert level red; Multiple counties at health alert level orange

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Canyon and Washington Counties moved to health alert level red

CALDWELL, IDAHO – Daily incidence rates continue to increase across the majority of the district. Based on data available for October 25, 2020 – November 7, 2020, Canyon County and Washington County have moved from the orange alert level to the red alert level. The remaining counties’ health alert levels are at the orange alert level. The information used in determining county health alert levels is listed below.

ADAMS COUNTY – Health Alert Level: Orange
Adams County will remain in the orange health alert level, with many new cases of COVID-19 reported between October 25, 2020 and November 7, 2020. Adams County had an incidence rate of 5.71 daily new cases per 10,000 people which is increasing slightly. Many of these new cases can be traced to one cluster of COVID-19 cases. Most individuals who have contracted COVID-19 can determine where they were exposed to the virus, and there has been no evidence of community transmission occurring within Adams County. For this reason, Adams County will remain in the orange alert level, even with an incidence rate in the red level. Multiple schools in Adams County have sporadic, imported cases of COVID-19 with one school experiencing a cluster outbreak with transmission occurring within the school.

CANYON COUNTY – Health Alert Level: Red
Canyon County will move to the red health alert level due to an increasing COVID-19 daily incidence rate1 and an increasing positivity rate. Canyon County has a daily incidence rate of 4.90 daily new cases per 10,000 people which is trending up and right on the cusp of the red category for this metric (at 5.0 daily new cases per 10,000). Only 66.8% of COVID-19 cases have reported knowing where they were exposed, which points to sustained community spread. SWDH investigators are continuing to see cases exposed through social and community gatherings. Additionally, the test positivity rate in Canyon County has spiked to 13.39% which is concerning SWDH epidemiologists. Eleven congregate living facilities are seeing cluster outbreaks2. Some healthcare facilities in Canyon County are nearing capacity for inpatient and ICU bed and have concerns about critical care staffing. Additionally, multiple schools in Canyon County are reporting an outbreak or transmission within the school.

GEM COUNTY – Health Alert Level: Orange
Gem County will move to the orange health alert level due to an increasing incidence rate and increasing positivity rate. Gem County has a daily incidence rate of 3.63 daily cases per 10,000 people and a test positivity rate of 11.82%. One congregate care facilities in Gem County is facing a sustained COVID-19 outbreak. 64.2% of new cases that were contacted knew where they were exposed to COVID-19, which is trending up and points to community transmission. Additionally, local healthcare providers are concerned with staffing shortages and hospital capacity. One school in Gem County is experiencing a cluster outbreak among students and staff.

OWYHEE COUNTY – Health Alert Level: Orange
Owyhee County will remain in the orange health alert level, due to a slightly increasing COVID-19 daily incidence rate, very high positivity rate, and evidence of community spread. Owyhee County currently has a daily incidence rate of 2.78 daily cases per 10,000 people, which is increasing. Just under half of all cases do not know where they were exposed to COVID-19, which is very concerning and points to sustained community spread. Additionally, the test positivity rate is 16.67% which shows that COVID-19 is more prevalent in the community than SWDH data show. SWDH epidemiologists are seeing cluster outbreaks in workplaces and businesses. There were multiple sporadic, imported case of COVID-19 within Owyhee County schools during the two-week date range with no evidence of transmission within schools.

PAYETTE COUNTY – Health Alert Level: Orange
Payette County will remain in the orange health alert level, due to a slightly increasing COVID-19 daily incidence rate, as well as an increasing positivity rate. Payette County has a daily incidence rate of 3.76 daily new cases per 10,000 people which is increasing slightly. Only 48.31% of confirmed cases know where they were exposed to COVID-19, which points to sustained community spread. SWDH epidemiologists are concerned by cluster outbreaks within local workplace settings and households. Payette County has a test positivity rate of 15.64%, which is very high and shows that COVID-19 is more prevalent in the community than SWDH data show. Many Payette County schools are seeing sporadic, imported cases of COVID-19 with no evidence of transmission occurring within schools.

WASHINGTON COUNTY – Health Alert Level: Red
Washington County will move to the red health alert level, due to a high daily incidence rate and a high positivity rate. Washington County currently has a daily incidence rate of 6.89 daily cases per 10,000 people, which is increasing dramatically. The positivity rate for Washington County is 17.04%, which has nearly doubled since last week. 74.19% of confirmed cases know where they were exposed to COVID-19, which is improving but still points to sustained community spread. SWDH epidemiologists are seeing transmission occurring within workplaces, households, and among healthcare workers in Washington County. Multiple Washington County schools are seeing sporadic, imported cases of COVID-19 with transmission occurring within one school. Additionally, there is an increase in total hospitalizations in Washington County which is decreasing hospital capacity. Elective surgeries are being cancelled or postponed to remedy this.

WEEKLY CASES BY SCHOOL DISTRICT
The following table represents data on confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases among students and staff where investigations began between November 1, 2020 and November 7, 2020.

The following table represents data on the number of staff and students currently in quarantine and isolation on the day the data are pulled and may not account for individuals who have been released from quarantine or are just entering quarantine.

Those in quarantine have been identified as a close contact of a positive case and are being asked to stay home for 14 days to monitor for symptoms. Those in isolation are currently positive for COVID-19 and are asked to isolate away from others for a minimum of ten days from the onset of symptoms to prevent further spread of the infection.

Region 3 data are available on the Southwest District Health website at: https://phd3.idaho.gov/covid19/. Please visit https://coronavirus.idaho.gov/ for statewide information. Questions may be directed to the SWDH COVID-19 Call Center Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at 208-455-5411.

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Media Contacts: 

Ashley Anderson          Ashley.Anderson@phd3.idaho.gov
Katrina Williams            Katrina.Williams@phd3.idaho.gov

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CYANOBACTERIA PUBLIC HEALTH ADVISORY LIFTED FOR HELLS CANYON RESERVOIR

Public Health Advisory

CYANOBACTERIA PUBLIC HEALTH ADVISORY LIFTED FOR HELLS CANYON RESERVOIR

 Southwest District Health, in conjunction with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), has lifted the Cyanobacteria Health Advisory for Hells Canyon Reservoir in the area of the Big Bar camping area. The advisory was issued July 10, 2020.

DEQ officials monitor cyanobacteria and associated toxins where harmful algal blooms (HABs) are present and have confirmed that cyanobacteria levels at Hells Canyon Reservoir in the area of the Big Bar camping area have returned to normal and toxin levels are below the safety threshold.

Other blooms may exist on this waterbody that have not been reported to DEQ or the health district. Water users should always exercise caution around water bodies with visible slime or surface scum or a foul odor. High concentrations of toxin-producing cyanobacteria may cause illness to both humans and animals. Report any concerns to DEQ at 208.373.0550.

For more information about harmful algal blooms, visit DEQ’s website at http://www.deq.idaho.gov/water-quality/surface-water/blue-green-algae/.

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DEQ Media Contact

Chase Cusack                        208.373.0550             Chase.Cusack@deq.idaho.gov

SWDH Media Contact

Katrina Williams                208.455.5317               Katrina.Williams@phd3.idaho.gov

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Case surges overwhelm public health efforts across Idaho

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Case surges overwhelm public health efforts across Idaho

IDAHO – South Central Public Health District, Central District Health, Southwest District Health, and the Panhandle Health District warn case surges in the last month have created backlogs and delays for their disease investigation teams, making it impossible to contact all new reported cases or those individual’s close-contacts.

Disease investigation remains a top priority for public health. However, as cases have flooded into the state, tripling daily averages in some districts, public health is asking for the community’s help.

“We are committed to doing our part in public health,” said Katherine Hoyer, Public Information Officer at Panhandle Health District. “But the reality we are facing is that levels of community transmission are making the critical work of investigation and contact tracing diluted. Simply put, we need the cooperation of our community members to do all they can to reduce their risk and protect themselves, their loved ones and fellow community members,” said Hoyer.

With the latest surge in cases, some health districts have been forced to prioritize investigative calls by age, to ensure they are reaching the people most at risk for severe symptoms and those most likely to spread the disease.

Because of the backlogs, public health districts report a growing number of people are not getting a call from their offices and urge anyone who is awaiting a test result or who receives a positive test result to take their own proactive measures to protect themselves and those around them.

“We have to rely on everyone we don’t speak with to act responsibly on their own. That means isolating while waiting for test results and, if positive, warning all of their close-contacts that they need to quarantine right away,” said Doug Doney, Acting Director for SWDH.

Anyone awaiting a test result should:

If you test positive you should:

  • Stay home except to get medical care; do not visit public places.
  • Take care of yourself – get rest, stay hydrated.
  • Stay in touch with your doctor – seek care if you have any emergency warning signs or if you think it’s an emergency.
  • Contact those with whom you have had close contact with to let them know they may have been exposed to COVID-19.
  • Avoid public transportation, ride-sharing or taxis.
  • Helpful Resource: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/index.html

In the Panhandle Health District, over 100 cases are coming in daily, the testing positivity and the testing demand continue to increase. The District is in a difficult position and cannot sustainably have staff continue to work after-hours. This is compounded by a stressful work environment where the public is, at times, resistant to the District’s help.

Due to the increased amount of daily cases that the District is receiving, they are focusing on case investigation by contacting those who tested positive and asking them to follow-up with their close contacts. This will allow staff to contact additional cases in a timely manner, but close contacts of those cases will not be called by PHD. This is temporary and normal case investigation and contact tracing will resume when they are able.

“We are able to report over 100 cases per day, but that is only what we are able to get into data entry,” said Hoyer. “Some days there may be double that amount of cases and our staff is struggling to just keep our heads above water. We want the public to have an accurate idea of what is occurring in our community while sustaining a modified case investigation.”

In South Central Public Health District, more than three times the number of cases were reported in October compared to any other month so far. Investigators are clearing about 300 cases a week, but receiving well over a thousand. Since Monday, November 2nd, SCPHD has received more than 200 cases reported each day.

“Our actions have consequences. We need to focus on our common goals; keep people healthy, keep businesses and schools open, and keep our hospitals running,” said Melody Bowyer, SCPHD Director. “To do that, we need to work together to bring our cases down.”

In Southwest District Health, this week SWDH has averaged 200 new cases reported a day. The more new cases means the less monitoring or close contact investigations we can complete. On average, we have more than doubled and nearly tripled our caseload with no increase in staffing.

“We desperately need the community’s help to dial back the numbers. The investigations team is doing our very best to keep up with the demand, including working overtime, but with the drastic increase in positive cases in such a short time, we need the help of the public to try to keep the cases down.” said Jaime Aanensen, Environmental and Community Health Division Administrator.

In Central District Health, cases related to long-term care facilities and schools are receiving priority for investigation and contact tracing among the latest surge in cases. This week, Ada County will well surpass a record 1,500 cases reported in one week, set back in July. CDH’s more rural counties are also seeing troubling increases. CDH is asking its residents to consider the things they are doing outside of their homes and take all steps to avoid any unnecessary risks.

“Reduce trips to the store, limit contact with people outside of your household, and be vigilant about wearing a mask and keeping distance from others. These sacrifices are critical to getting back to a more manageable case rate for our communities and protecting our most vulnerable residents,” said Russ Duke, District Director for Central District Health.

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More information:

South Central Public Health District
Counties: Blaine, Camas, Cassia, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, Minidoka, Twin Falls 
Contact Brianna Bodily, Public Information Officer, bbodily@phd5.idaho.gov
COVID-19 hotlines: Spanish (208) 737-5965, English (208) 737-1138.
Data, guidance, and resources: https://phd5.idaho.gov/coronavirus

Central District Health
Counties: Ada, Boise, Elmore, Valley
Contact: Christine Myron, Public Information Officer, cmyron@cdh.idaho.gov
COVID-19 hotline: (208) 321-2222
Data, guidance, and resources: https://www.cdh.idaho.gov/covid

Southwest District Health
Counties: Adams, Washington, Payette, Gem, Canyon, Owyhee  
Contact: Ashley Anderson, Public Information Officer, ashley.anderson@phd3.idaho.gov
COVID-19 hotline: (208) 455-5411
Data, guidance, and resources: https://www.phd3.idaho.gov/covid19

Panhandle Health District
Counties: Boundary, Bonner, Kootenai, Benewah, Shoshone
Contact: Katherine Hoyer, Public Information Officer, khoyer@phd1.idaho.gov
COVID-19 hotline: 877-415-5225
Data, guidance, and resources: www.panhandlehealthdistrict.org/COVID-19

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