New COVID-19 data collection tool launched

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


New
COVID-19 data collection tool launched

CALDWELL, IDAHO – COVID-19 incidence rates across the six-county region Southwest District Health (SWDH) serves remain high and hospital systems are seeing the impact. Southwest District Health serves Adams, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, and Washington Counties.

Since late July 2021, all counties in SWDH were categorized by the CDC as having high levels of community transmission. As of September 15, 2021, the district-wide COVID-19 incidence rate is 6.80 daily new cases per 10,000 residents and the most current test positivity rate is 18.35%.

A new tool in the fight against COVID-19: Self-report your COVID-19 experience

The combination of a sharp increase in COVID-19 positive cases and limited staffing has created a significant backlog in COVID-19 case investigations. Southwest District Health attempts to contact each new case to learn about their exposure, illness, treatment, and outcome. This core function of local public health is done to monitor disease trends in a community, provide data that can inform decisions, and communicate risks and prevention messages. The ideal outcome of SWDH’s work is to limit the spread of diseases within our community that often cause lasting disability or premature death.

Southwest District Health will be asking individuals with a positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR test to use a secure online form to share their COVID-19 experience. The form asks the same questions our disease investigators would go through, but due to our current situation, we are unable to contact every new case in a timely manner. This means that SWDH is not able to communicate important information about COVID-19 and is not able to collect essential information that when compiled with all other new cases, provides crucial information about severity of illness among specific populations (e.g., age group, occupation, ethnicity, etc.), exposure, vaccination breakthrough, and hospitalization.

Southwest District Health encourages residents who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 to notify those they have been in close contact with up to two days prior to developing symptoms or testing positive. Since August 2021, SWDH has averaged over 150 daily reported new cases of COVID-19. Due to the number of new cases being reported each day, SWDH is unable to make timely contact and notification to close contacts. Close contacts should isolate at home for 14 days to help reduce the spread of the virus in our community.

“We are on a very concerning trajectory. Our hospitals are full, and we anticipate the situation will worsen before it improves. Southwest District Health is making every effort to provide accurate and timely data and information to our community, schools, businesses, and elected officials, but we cannot keep up with the current pace of new cases being reported each day. Our community can help us by making the decision to get vaccinated, staying home when sick, avoiding the emergency department unless it is necessary, and assisting Southwest District Health by providing timely information following a positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR test,” said Nikki Zogg, District Director.

Please call the SWDH COVID-19 Call Center 208-455-5411 to book your vaccine appointment or schedule a COVID-19 test. The Call Center is available Monday through Friday 8:30 AM-4:30 PM (MDT) except for observed holidays. Community members are encouraged to visit the SWDH COVID-19 Vaccine Webpage for helpful vaccine resources.

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Media Contacts: 

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

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Troubling Data Trends on Youth Behavioral Health in Southwest Idaho

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Troubling Data Trends on Youth Behavioral Health in Southwest Idaho

CALDWELL, IDAHO – Data showing troubling trends amongst youth behavioral health were shared by Southwest District Health (SWDH) Director, Nikole Zogg, and SWDH Senior Data Analyst, Rachel Pollreis, during the Board of Health meeting held Tuesday, August 24. Information presented to Board members included behavioral health trends, data, current program updates, and the future of behavioral health initiatives in Idaho with an emphasis on youth behavioral health in the Southwest Idaho area. Concerns about the potential behavioral health impacts to youth throughout the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic have been a concern voiced by current board members and members of the public in recent months. 

The full presentation may be found in the August 24, 2021 Board of Health Meeting Packet. Data highlights from the presentation titled Domestic Violence, Self-Harm, and Abuse Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Mental Wellbeing, are as follows: 

  • 10x as many abuse-related injuries in SWDH’s six-county region reported in 2020 relative to 2019. These are small numbers, going from 1 to 10; however, we know many cases go unreported. 90% of reports in 2020 were among children under the age of 20 years. 
  • 25% increase in the number of intentional self-harm injuries among children and adults treated in Idaho hospitals from 2019 to 2020. 
  • Increase in rate of domestic violence victims requiring medical attention in Canyon County. 
  • Thus far, in 2021, the number of people seeking resources from Advocates Against Family Violence has nearly matched 2020.  
  • The number of unhoused people seeking resources from Advocates Against Family Violence doubled in the first five months of 2021 relative to 2020 (12 months).  

“The data are showing us that youth are being significantly impacted by the events that have transpired over the last 24 months. While we cannot change the events of the past, we can build better support systems that equip our youth with tools necessary to develop into thriving young adults. Access to prevention and treatment resources are limited in many of our rural areas and fragmented across our community. We can do better. With the support of the Board of Health, Southwest District Health is committing to engage community partners to fill these gaps, build resiliency, and help our upcoming generations achieve better health.” Said Nikki Zogg, District Director. 

Board members also heard updates on the Idaho Behavioral Health Council Strategic Plan, presented by Gene Petty, Third Judicial District Court Judge and the SWDH Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) and Parents as Teachers (PAT) home visiting programs, which are designed to build resilience among young families in our community.  Parents as Teachers is a free program available to families living in Adams, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, and Washington Counties. Parents as Teachers helps guide parents through early learning stages and gives them tools for success. Nurse Family Partnership provides eligible first-time Canyon County moms with access to home visiting nurses and helps transform lives. Ongoing home visits from registered nurses provide these first-time moms with the care and support they need to have a healthy pregnancy, tools to provide responsible and competent care for their children, and resources to become economically self-sufficient.  

For adults 18 years and older experiencing mental health and/or substance use crises, thWestern Idaho Community Crisis Center is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for walk-in and telehealth services. The center provides immediate, compassionate care, resources to promote recovery, and first steps to stability. The center may be reached at 208-402-1044 or visit in-person at 524 Cleveland Blvd., Suite 160, Caldwell, ID 83605. 

The SWDH Board of Health meetings are held monthly and live-streamed via YouTube for public viewing. The meeting recordings are also hosted and available for later viewing at www.youtube.com/southwestdistricthealth. The presentations and board proceedings may be viewed at any time.

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Media Contacts: 

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

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Health advisories issued for Lake Lowell, Hells Canyon Reservoir and Brownlee Reservoir

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Health advisories issued for Lake Lowell, Hells Canyon Reservoir and Brownlee Reservoir                                             

CALDWELL, IDAHO – Southwest District Health (SWDH) and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) are issuing health advisories for LAKE LOWELL, HELLS CANYON RESERVOIR and BROWNLEE RESERVOIR, urging residents to use caution when recreating in or near the water.  

Recent samples taken from the water bodies indicate high concentrations of toxin-producing cyanobacteria, which can be harmful to people, pets, and livestock. Those with liver or kidney damage are at an increased risk of illness. 

Cyanobacteria are a natural part of Idaho’s water bodies. When temperatures rise, their populations can bloom and toxic chemical compounds, or cyanotoxins, can be released into the water. Blooms can vary in appearance, and may look like mats, foam, spilled paint, or surface scum, and have a foul odor. 

When recreating near or in LAKE LOWELL, HELLS CANYON RESERVOIR and BROWNLEE RESERVOIR, take the following precautions while the advisory is in effect: 

  • Avoid swimming, wading, or other activities. Take extra precautions to ensure children, pets, and livestock are not exposed to the water. 
  • Do not drink or cook with water containing a bloom. Boiling and filtering the water can increase the risk. 
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after handling fish caught in water experiencing a bloom. Cyanotoxins can accumulate in fish and the risk to people is being researched. Any fish caught should be cleaned and washed thoroughly in uncontaminated water and any internal organs disposed of before consumption. If people choose to eat fish from this area, filet the fish and remove all of the fat, skin, and organs before cooking.  
  • Clean with potable water as soon as possible if water contacts skin or pet fur. 

Symptoms of cyanotoxin exposure include rashes, hives, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, and/or wheezing. More severe symptoms affecting the liver and nervous system may result from ingesting water. If symptoms persist, consult your healthcare provider.  

The public will be advised when it is likely the concern no longer exists.  

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

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Media Contacts: 

DEQ media contact:
Chase Cusack                Chase.Cusack@deq.idaho.gov 

Southwest District Health contacts:
Ashley Anderson           Ashley.Anderson@phd3.idaho.gov
Katrina Williams            Katrina.Williams@phd3.idaho.gov

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Human West Nile Virus Case Identified in Canyon County Health Officials Encourage Taking Precautions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Human West Nile Virus Case Identified in Canyon County

Health Officials Encourage Taking Precautions                

CALDWELL, IDAHO – West Nile virus has been confirmed in a Canyon County resident. This is the first 2021 human case of West Nile virus (WNV) infection in the counties served by Southwest District Health.

West Nile virus (WNV) is a potentially serious illness that is usually spread to animals and humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. It does not spread from person-to-person. Most people (8 out of 10) infected with the virus do not show symptoms, although more severe symptoms may occur, especially in individuals older than 60. People with symptoms may experience fever, headaches, body aches, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash typically occurring 2 to 14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito.

“About one in 150 people infected with WNV develop severe illness such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), or meningitis (inflammation of the linings of the brain and spinal cord),” said Ricky Bowman, Program Manager for Southwest District Health. “These more severe infections are marked by a rapid onset of a high fever, headache, neck stiffness, body aches, disorientation, and tremors, and may require hospitalization” he said.

The more time you spend outdoors, the higher your chances are that you could be bitten by an infected mosquito. To reduce your risk of contracting WNV you should:

  • If possible, avoid outdoor activities between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active and feeding. If you must be outside at dawn or dusk, take precautions such as wearing long sleeves, pants, and loose-fitting clothing.
  • Use insect repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredients, such as DEET or Picaridin (Follow manufacturers’ instructions on the label) when outside. In addition, certain products containing permethrin are recommended for use on clothing, shoes, bed nets, and camping gear.
  • Insect-proof your home by making sure you have good screens on your windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
  • Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by draining standing water from flowerpots, buckets, barrels, pool covers, and wading pools.
  • Avoid over-irrigating your lawns, gardens, or pastures.
  • Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths and watering troughs at least twice weekly.
  • Drill holes in tire swings or old tires so water drains out.
  • Get your horses vaccinated against West Nile.

WNV does not usually affect domestic animals, such as dogs and cats, but it can cause severe illness in horses and certain bird species. There is no human vaccine available but there are vaccines available for horses. People are advised to vaccinate their horses to protect them against WNV.

For more information on WNV please visit:

For more information on insect repellents, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents

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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 Excessive Heat Public Health Advisory for Adams, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, and Washington Counties

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Southwest District Health Issues Excessive Heat Public Health Advisory for Adams, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, and Washington Counties                                                   

CALDWELL, IDAHO – Southwest District Health is issuing an excessive heat public health advisory while temperatures exceed 100 degrees for consecutive days in the coming week. A heat advisory means that a period of hot temperatures is expected. Heat is the #1 weather-related killer in the United States. Be safe!

Health Impacts of Extreme Heat

Heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and heat stresses are not uncommon during extremely hot temperatures. In fact, heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. Infants and children, older adults (over the age of 65 years), people with chronic conditions and individuals who work outdoors may be more prone to some form of heat stress. Heat stroke occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the body loses its ability to sweat, and it is unable to cool down. Body temperatures rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.

Signs and symptoms of heat stroke vary but may include the following:

  • An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
  • Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea

Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to hot temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids.

Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion vary but may include the following:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Paleness
  • Muscle
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting
  • Skin: may be cool and moist
  • Pulse rate: fast and weak
  • Breathing: fast and shallow

In the coming days:

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Seek cooler locations during the day if no air conditioning is available.
  • Limit physical activity
  • Limit exposure to the sun (particularly between 10am-6pm when heat is most powerful)
  • Apply sunscreen, at least SPF 30, at least 20 minutes before going outside.
  • Check on those who might be prone to heat sensitivities.
  • Look before you lock! Never leave children, elderly persons, or pets unattended in enclosed vehicles even for a short time.
  • Keep your A/C regularly maintained and take precautions.
  • Prepare for a power outage (everyone’s A/C is running overtime and might cause a power outage).
  • Play in the water! Turn on your sprinklers! Fill the kiddie pool!
  • Avoid using the oven, plan for meals that do not require using the oven or stovetop (careful, some appliance can raise the temperatures in the house as well as other electronics that are plugged in but not in use).

More resources:

Learn more about extreme heat: https://www.ready.gov/heat

CDC infographic on heat stroke vs. heat exhaustion: https://www.cdc.gov/cpr/infographics/ast-heat.htm

Idaho Power Asks Customers to Conserve Energy During Evening Hours: https://www.idahopower.com/news/idaho-power-asks-customers-to-conserve-energy-during-evening-hours/

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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 Board of Health passes resolution supporting individuals’ abilities to make responsible decisions concerning their own health and well-being

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Southwest District Health Board of Health passes resolution supporting individuals’ abilities to make responsible decisions concerning their own health and well-being

CALDWELL, IDAHO – The Southwest District Health Board of Health met today, Tuesday, May 4, 2021, during a properly noticed Special Meeting to consider a Resolution brought forward for Board consideration in an effort to clarify the health district’s support of its communities’ abilities to make responsible decisions regarding their own health and safety. The resolution was adopted by a unanimous vote of the board members. The resolution may be viewed at the following URL under general guidance: https://phd3.idaho.gov/document-repository/#1614887236055-ef3e771d-7231.

“Since the onset of COVID-19, Southwest District Health has served as a community resource to provide assistance, education, and support needed to help inform decisions when requested. It is the position of Southwest District Health, that individuals, business owners, and bodies of government, including schools, are free to make their own decisions about what, if any, measures they choose to take to protect their health and the health of their families, students, or patrons. Individuals, business owners, and bodies of government are responsible and accountable for the decisions they make,” said District Director Nikki Zogg.  

“I feel confident that with each day that passes we are returning to a place of normalcy as the risk for exposure to COVID-19 decreases, vaccinations are readily available, and treatments for COVID-19 continue to improve. I am cautiously optimistic that we will continue in this direction, and I encourage our community to stay vigilant. I express my gratitude for the efforts of our communities over the past year to navigate a very challenging time,” added Zogg.

If you have questions about COVID-19 or COVID-19 vaccines, please call the Southwest District Health COVID-19 Call Center at 208-455-5411. The Call Center is available Monday through Friday 8:30 AM-4:30 PM (MST), except for observed 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 Pauses the Use of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Southwest District Health Pauses the Use of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

CALDWELL, IDAHO – Effective immediately the use of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine is paused at all Southwest District Health clinics across the six-county jurisdiction. 

The decision was made by Southwest District Health (SWDH) following the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The recommendation was issued by the FDA and the CDC following severe adverse reactions that have been experienced by six individuals following vaccination with Johnson & Johnson vaccine. These situations are rare, and none of the six individuals that experienced severe adverse reactions were within SWDH’s jurisdiction. SWDH is taking a proactive response to help preserve the health and safety of the communities we serve.

People who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider.

If you have questions about COVID-19 vaccines, please call the Southwest District Health COVID-19 Call Center at 208-455-5411. The Call Center is available Monday through Friday 8:30 AM-4:30 PM (MST), except for observed 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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All Idahoans aged 16+ can now access COVID-19 vaccine in Adams, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, and Washington Counties

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

All Idahoans aged 16+ can now access COVID-19 vaccine in Adams, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, and Washington Counties

CALDWELL, IDAHO – Effective immediately, any Idaho residents 16 years and older are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine in the six counties served by SWDH.

Of note, only the Pfizer vaccine is authorized for those ages 16 and 17. The Moderna and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines are both authorized for use in those 18-years and older.

The decision to expand access across the six-county region was based on the input provided by vaccine partners.

Making a COVID-19 vaccine appointment

An updated list of enrolled vaccine providers may be found on the SWDH website. The list is updated frequently as more providers are enrolled and begin receiving vaccine allocations or other changes.

Residents are encouraged to use the State’s vaccine pre-registration tool at covidvaccine.idaho.gov. The pre-registration tool allows Idahoans to be added to a list. That list is used by enrolled vaccine providers to directly connect with those currently eligible for vaccine.

If you need assistance by phone to navigate the State’s pre-registration tool or navigate the SWDH Enrolled Vaccine Provider list, or if you do not have internet access, please call the Southwest District Health COVID-19 Call Center 208-455-5411. The Call Center is available Monday through Friday 8:30 AM-4:30 PM (MST) except for observed holidays.

Information Resources

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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 COVID-19 Health Alert Level system retired; All Idahoans aged 45+ and those 16+ living in congregate settings can now access COVID-19 vaccine in Adams, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, and Washington Counties

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Southwest District Health COVID-19 Health Alert Level system retired; All Idahoans aged 45+ and those 16+ living in congregate settings can now access COVID-19 vaccine in Adams, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, and Washington Counties

CALDWELL, IDAHO – Southwest District Health’s (SWDH) Board of Health called for a special meeting Tuesday, March 16, during the regular Board of Health meeting. The special Board of Health meeting was held on Wednesday, March 24, to discuss the COVID-19 Health Alert Level system and finish carryover items from the March 16 meeting that was interrupted by a power outage. The Board of Health voted in favor of retiring the existing COVID-19 Health Alert Level system. The COVID-19 Health Alert Level system categorized community risk of exposure to COVID-19 by county based on metrics approved by the Board of Health last summer. The system also included recommendations from SWDH to decrease the risk of exposure when living, working or visiting a particular county in SWDH’s jurisdiction. The change went into effect immediately.

Southwest District Health’s Board of Health voted to transition to another means of keeping the public informed. The metric data that had been previously used to inform the health alert levels will continue to be available, but no color, alert level, or recommendations will be associated with the data. District staff will make these data available on SWDH’s website and through weekly social media posts. Southwest District Health staff will continue to provide education and consultation to the public and their partners in accordance with state and CDC guidance. Please visit the following web address for the updated COVID-19 dashboard: https://phd3.idaho.gov/covid19/#1593641650446-8e5454e5-d5d1.

“I appreciate the trust our communities place in us as their public health agency. From the onset of COVID-19, we have worked together to take the right steps at the right time to protect the health of our communities. The health alert levels were designed as a step toward providing community-specific information about risk for exposure to COVID-19 and recommendations for limiting that risk. The next step now is to retire this system and use other resources in place to help inform the public, businesses, schools, and other institutions. Our staff remain dedicated to assisting and supporting our communities and reaching our vision of “A healthier Southwest Idaho”, said Nikki Zogg, SWDH District Director.

All Idahoans aged 45+ and those 16+ living in congregate settings can now access COVID-19 vaccine in Adams, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, and Washington Counties

Effective immediately, any Idaho residents 45 years and older and those 16 years and older living in congregate settings are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine in the six counties served by SWDH. The congregate living setting, as recommended by the Idaho COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee and approved by Governor Little, include:

  • Emergency shelters and transitional housing (if not already included)
  • Dormitory housing for workers
  • Correctional and detention facilities (adult)
  • Group housing for persons in substance misuse treatment or recovery or with mental illness who do not require hospitalization
  • Residential treatment or recovery facility
  • Dormitory housing for students

Of note, only the Pfizer vaccine is authorized for those ages 16 and 17; the Moderna and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines are authorized for use in those 18-years and older.

The decision to expand access across the six-county region was based on the input provided by vaccine partners.

Making a COVID-19 vaccine appointment

An updated list of enrolled vaccine providers may be found on the SWDH website. The list is updated frequently as more providers are enrolled and begin receiving vaccine allocations or other changes occur.

Residents are encouraged to use the State’s vaccine pre-registration tool at covidvaccine.idaho.gov. The pre-registration tool allows Idahoans to be added to a list that is used by enrolled vaccine providers to directly connect with those currently eligible for vaccine.

If you need assistance by phone to navigate the State’s pre-registration tool or assistance to navigate the SWDH Enrolled Vaccine Provider list, or if you do not have internet access, please call the SWDH COVID-19 Call Center 208-455-5411. The Call Center is available Monday through Friday 8:30 AM-4:30 PM (MST) with the exception of observed holidays.

Information Resources

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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 Investigating Confirmed Norovirus in Caldwell Casual Dining Establishment; Numerous Instances of Customer Gastrointestinal Upset Reported

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Southwest District Health Investigating Confirmed Norovirus in Caldwell Casual Dining Establishment; Numerous Instances of Customer Gastrointestinal Upset Reported

CALDWELL, IDAHO – Nearly 25 known individuals have reported experiencing gastro-intestinal illness symptoms to Southwest District Health (SWDH) since Friday, March 19. SWDH is currently investigating each reported illness to help determine the exact source and has confirmed 1 positive case of Norovirus. So far, there is a strong link to the Subway at 319 N 10th Ave in Caldwell, individuals that are reporting symptoms visited the establishment or received food from this location March 16-19.

The Subway involved is working cooperatively with SWDH following suspected presence of Norovirus and instituted mitigation measures to halt the spread of the virus. Following the inspection by SWDH, it was determined that the facility was following all guidance and recommendations.

Norovirus outbreaks are caused by a group of related viruses that account for more than 90 percent of gastrointestinal illness outbreaks in the United States each year. Noroviruses can be found in stool and vomit and are highly contagious. They are known for sweeping through close quarters and infecting a large number of people. Symptoms of Norovirus illness usually begin about 24 to 48 hours after close exposure to Norovirus and can appear as early as 12 hours after exposure and include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal Cramps
  • Low-grade fever or none at all

Symptoms

People may feel very sick and vomit multiple times and/or have many loose stools a day. Most people get better within 1 or 2 days, and they have no long-term health effects related to their illness. However, shedding of the virus may continue for 1-2 weeks. At times, affected individuals, usually the very young and elderly may become dehydrated as they are unable to drink enough liquids to replace the liquids lost because of vomiting and diarrhea.

Prevention

The spread of Norovirus can be prevented by practicing proper hand hygiene. Important strategies include washing hands with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers, and always before eating and preparing or handling food. The community should be aware that with these reported outbreak individuals should use good hand hygiene and stay home if sick until 48 to 72 hours without symptoms.

If You Have Symptoms 

SWDH encourages anyone who is experiencing symptoms of fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and/or vomiting they believe could be related to something they ate, to talk to their health care provider. Anyone who is ill with these symptoms should stay home to help prevent the spread to others. It is important to practice proper hand hygiene, cleaning surfaces, and not preparing food for others if possible as these are common routes of transmission. If you believe you were exposed, you should contact the SWDH reporting line about your illness by phone at 208-455-5442

For more information on Norovirus, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/index.html

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Media Contacts: 

Media Contacts:               Ashley Anderson    Ashley.Anderson@phd3.idaho.gov

Katrina Williams     Katrina.Williams@phd3.idaho.gov

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