CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 2019 | COVID-19

COVID-19 CASES IN SOUTHWEST IDAHO

Data will be updated by 5:00 PM (MST) weekdays Monday through Friday except on holidays. Data are preliminary and subject to change. Cases are reported by primary residence; not where they are diagnosed.

The following are COVID-19 cases for Southwest District Health’s jurisdiction of Adams, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, and Washington Counties. For statewide counts, visit coronavirus.idaho.gov

HEALTH DISTRICT 3 COVID 19 DATA DASHBOARD

https://public.tableau.com/profile/southwest.district.health#!/

Health Alert Level assessments will be made on Wednesdays based on the prior two weeks’ data (assessing 7-day average of quantitative data points), starting on a Sunday and ending on a Saturday. At least two full weeks will be spent in a Health Alert Level before determinations to move to a lower less severe level (e.g. from High to Medium).

 

* The 7-day daily average incidence of new case range will be used along with other data thresholds to make decisions when considering moving between health alert levels and will not be used as a single indicator/cutoff/trigger to move to a higher or lower level.

Idaho Back to School Framework has identified three categories for determining transmission risk (table below). To assist schools located in the six-county region, Southwest District Health has cross-walked the Idaho Back to School Framework with the COVID-19 Health Alert Level advisory system.

 

COVID-19 Health Alert Levels Documents

Posters

Cards

SWDH Health Alert Level Dashboard

Data will be posted to the SWDH Tableau Dashboard each Wednesday, by 5:00 PM (MST). Cases are reported by primary residence; not where they are diagnosed. Some confidential information has been excluded from this dashboard. The alert level designation is based on all available information.

GUIDANCE DOCUMENTS

Findings of The District Board of Health

General Guidance

Guidance for Businesses

Guidance for Food Establishments

Large Events Guidance

Guidance for Schools

Guidance for Workplace and Employers

COVID-19 Health Alert Levels Documents

Posters

Cards

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is 2019 Novel Coronavirus?

A: The 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold. As of February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, COVID-19.

Q: Is COVID-19 the same as the MERS-CoV or SARS virus?

A: No. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats. The recently emerged COVID-19 is not the same as the coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) or the coronavirus that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). However, genetic analyses suggest this virus emerged from a virus related to SARS. There are ongoing investigations to learn more. This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.

Q: How does the virus spread?

A: The virus is known to be transmitted by droplets produced by coughing or sneezing, avoiding close human contact is vital, especially with anyone who is sick. People should avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. Hands should be washed with soap and water for 20 seconds.

New information has emerged about the potential for people who are not showing symptoms to unknowingly spread the virus.

Q: How long does the virus stay alive on surfaces?

A: A new study from National Institutes of Health, CDC, UCLA, and Princeton University scientists in The New England Journal of Medicine demonstrated that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was detectable in aerosols for up to three hours, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.

https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/new-coronavirus-stable-hours-surfaces

Q: Am I at risk for COVID-19 from mail, packages, or products?

A: There is still a lot that is unknown about COVID-19 and how it spreads. Coronaviruses are thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets. Although the virus can survive for a short period on some surfaces, it is unlikely to be spread from domestic or international mail, products or packaging. However, it may be possible that people can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Q: What is the most effective cleaning spray or wipe?

A: Use diluted household bleach solutions if appropriate for the surface. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.

To make a bleach solution, mix:

5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water

OR

4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water

Alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol.

Household cleaners and disinfectants: Clean the area or item with soap and water or another detergent if it is dirty. Then, use a household disinfectant. Follow the instructions on the label to ensure safe and effective use of the product.

Many products recommend:

Keeping the surface wet for several minutes to ensure germs are killed.

Precautions such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.

Most EPA-registered household disinfectants external icon should be effective.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/disinfecting-your-home.html

Q: How long is COVID-19 alive in the air?

A:  It is believed to be alive for up to 3 hours as an aerosol in a room with poor/no air exchange.

Q: Do temperatures affect COVID-19?

A: For the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, we have reason to expect that like other beta coronaviruses, it may transmit somewhat more efficiently in winter (and dryer) than summer (more humid) weather, though we don’t know the mechanism(s) responsible. The size of the change is expected to be modest, and not enough to stop transmission on its own. Based on the analogy of pandemic flu, we expect that SARS-CoV-2, as a virus new to humans, will face less immunity and thus transmit more readily even outside of the winter season.

Coronaviruses as a family have various temperature sensitivities. Many are considered to thrive in ‘cold weather’ and decrease activity in ‘warm weather’ but this is not seen in all coronaviruses and cannot be applied to SARS-CoV-2.

https://ccdd.hsph.harvard.edu/will-covid-19-go-away-on-its-own-in-warmer-weather/

Q: What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

A: People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

This list is not all inclusive. Other less common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Q: How does the virus spread?

A: The virus is known to be transmitted by droplets produced by coughing or sneezing. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet).

New information has emerged about the potential for people who are not showing symptoms (asymptomatic) to unknowingly spread the virus.

CDC recommends that all people, whether or not they have had COVID-19, take steps to prevent getting and spreading COVID-19. Wash hands regularly, stay at least 6 feet away from others whenever possible, and wear masks or cloth face coverings.

Q: What is community transmission?

A: Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

Our communities risk is always changing based on the activities in our communities and adherence to our guidance and protocols. We ask that the public keep informed on developments and information from their health departments, which can be found at: https://www.cdh.idaho.gov/dac-coronavirus and https://phd3.idaho.gov/coronavirus/

Q: What should I do to help reduce community transmission?

A: Public health recommends the following:

  • Practice Physical distancing: avoid crowds, maintain at least 6 feet from others when possible
  • Cancel or postpone gatherings with persons where physical distancing cannot be maintained
  • Do not host or attend any gatherings
  • Limit or postpone unnecessary travel
  • Consider postponing or canceling out of town vacations and travel out of state
  • Use drive through, pick up, and delivery services for everyday errands where possible
  • Persons at increased risk of severe illness should consider sheltering in place
  • Limit travel outside your home to essential activities or business
  • Persons with recent travel to an area having widespread community transmission or a shelter in place order should shelter in place at home until 14-days after
  • Create a plan for how to safely care for a household member if they become ill

Our communities risk is still rapidly changing. We ask that the public keep informed on developments and information from their health departments, which can be found at: https://www.cdh.idaho.gov/dac-coronavirus and https://phd3.idaho.gov/coronavirus/

There is a body of evidence—based on about 200 journal articles—that supports the effectiveness of social distancing measures, both when used alone and in combination with other measures.

Q: If I don’t get a paycheck, I won’t be able to buy groceries or pay rent. Are there services to help me?

A: Yes. You may be eligible for public assistance for food, medical care, rent, and more. Please call 1-877-456-1233 or visit www.livebetteridaho.org to apply.

Q: Can I still go out to pick up my prescription?

A: Yes. You may leave your home to visit a pharmacy.

Q: How do I keep running essential errands safely?

A: “Running Essential Errands: Grocery Shopping, Take-Out, Banking, Getting Gas, and Doctor Visits,” provides advise on how to meet household needs in a safe and healthy manner. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/essential-goods-services.html

Q: What are some ways to help myself and family cope with the stress we are feeling?

A: Things you can do to support yourself and the people you care for:

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others through calls (audio or video), instant messaging, email, letters, or other forms of communication, even if you cannot be together in person.
  • Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

Q: Why is personal information not shared about individuals who have tested positive for Coronavirus?

A: Southwest District Health (SWDH) has a moral and legal obligation to protect the privacy of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. If someone with a positive test chooses to share personal information such as their hometown or place of employment that is their right and choice. However, the department will not be sharing the personal information of those with COVID-19.

Southwest District Health is not publicly disclosing the names of these facilities to protect the privacy of the patients. We would not publish an individual person’s address for the public to know they were positive for COVID-19; publishing facility names would be the same thing – disclosing a person’s residence. All the residents and their families in each of the facilities with positive cases have been notified. We also want to avoid creating unfair perceptions and causing people not to seek the services they need.

Q: Who should be tested for COVID-19?

  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your medical provider to find out if you should be tested for COVID-19
  • People at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness and should seek medical attention. This includes:
    • Older adults
    • People who have serious underlying medical conditions like:
      • Heart disease
      • Diabetes
      • Lung disease

For more information for people who may be at higher risk for severe illness, please visit the CDC’s website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high- risk-complications.html.

Many healthcare clinics and hospitals across the state are offering screening and swabbing of people who show symptoms of respiratory illness. Please call the Southwest District Health COVID-19 Call Center for more information about testing sites, available Monday through Friday 8:00 AM-5:00 PM 208-455-5411.

Q: What is antibody testing?

A: Antibody (serologic) testing may help determine if a person has been infected with COVID-19 and had an immune response (made antibody) to the infection. Early studies of COVID-19 suggest that antibody levels increase about 7-11 days after someone gets sick from COVID-19. More information about COVID-19 antibody testing:

  • Antibody testing, when available, could be used to see if a person has had an infection and developed antibody to that infection. However, not everyone has an antibody response to infection. Some people may have an antibody test results that shows antibody, but they don’t have antibody that is specifically against COVID-19 (a false- positive test result).
  • Importantly, antibody (serologic) testing cannot tell if a person is infected with the COVID-19 virus and able to infect others at the time of testing. People who show antibody to COVID-19 may still have an infection and be able to spread the virus to others. People who do not have antibody may be infected because antibody levels don’t go up until several days after people get infected with COVID-19.
  • Testing for antibody in groups of people may allow decision makers to estimate the percentage of people who have already been infected. For example, healthcare systems may be able to use antibody testing to determine which staff may have already been infected and may be at lower risk of getting sick when caring for COVID-19.

Challenges to interpreting results from antibody tests include:

  1. Some people will test positive for antibody, but not actually have antibody against SARS- CoV-2 (a false positive test).
  2. Some people will have had a SARS-CoV-2 infection in the past, but their antibody test is negative (this is referred to as a false negative test result).
  3. Antibody (serologic) testing cannot tell if a person is infected with the COVID-19 virus and able to infect others at the time of testing. Some people may be infected with SARS-CoV-2, and able to infect others, but their antibody test has not turned positive yet. Or, they may have a positive antibody test, but are still infected with the virus and able to infect others.
  4. When the percentage of people with a prior COVID-19 infection is low, as we believe is currently the case in most parts of Idaho, most of the positive antibody test results will be false positives (i.e. the test will be positive, but the antibody is not from COVID-19 in most patients tested).

Due to these challenges, Southwest District Health does not recommend the use of antibody tests alone to advise individual patients about whether they have had or are infected with COVID-19. Antibody tests may be most useful for estimating the percentage of people in a group that have already been infected and for estimating changes in the percentage of people in the community with SARS-CoV-2 antibody.

Please see the CDC explanation and interim guidance here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/lab/resources/antibody-tests.html.

Q: If a person’s blood sample tests negative using a serological test, does that mean that the person does not have COVID-19?

A: Not necessarily. The person might be in the early stages of COVID-19 infection and has not developed enough antibodies to be detected by a serological test. Results from antibody testing alone are not enough to determine whether someone is infected with SARS-CoV-2.

Q: What is herd immunity?

A: This brief statement from Johns Hopkins University does a great job explaining herd immunity against COVID-19 and how far away we are from achieving it, if herd immunity is indeed possible.

Because COVID-19 is a new virus, every person on the planet is vulnerable. Achieving herd immunity, which creates resistance of the population to an attack by a disease to which a large portion of the population is immune, will take time.

In order for herd immunity to exist, a few of conditions must be met in the population.

  • First, COVID-19 must be restricted to a single susceptible host species (e.g., humans). Currently, it appears likely that COVID-19 is only spreading from human-to-human. If this changed and other susceptible host species such as household pets could also easily contract and transmit the disease (i.e., human-to-animal-to-human), herd immunity could be harder to achieve because other means of transmission are available.
  • Second, infections caused by COVID-19 must result in solid immunity for a proportion of the population. If only partial immunity is achieved, we will not be able to increase the number of immune people in the population enough to reach herd immunity.
  • Third, the degree of herd immunity that is achieved depends on how much mixing occurs in the population. Herd immunity is most effective when populations are constantly mixing together and there are not pockets of populations that are susceptible or not exposed. By mixing of the population, we can interrupt the transmission of the virus from an infected individual to a susceptible person.

Immunization programs are a preferred method over natural disease transmission to increase herd immunity in a population because they reduce the risk of disease, disability, and premature death. Good examples of effective vaccination programs in U.S. history include smallpox, polio, and measles. It is unknown at this time, if an effective COVID-19 vaccine will be developed that will produce herd immunity.

Q: I’m not sick, but my employer says I need to be tested for COVID-19 before I come back to work. Is that legal? Can I get a test if I’m not sick?

A: Employers can send symptomatic workers home and can conduct screening procedures such as checking employee’s temperatures before they enter the building. Employers can require a doctor’s note before allowing someone who has been sick to return to work, but they cannot require employees to have a medical procedure such as a blood test. Most healthcare professionals will only offer COVID-19 testing to symptomatic patients. The Idaho Division of Public Health and Southwest District Health do not recommend that employers use coronavirus serology testing to make determinations as to whether employees present a risk of infection, whether employees are medically cleared to return to work outside of healthcare settings, or whether employees are immune to SARS-CoV-2 and therefore do not need utilize all the protective measures that other susceptible employees are required to use.

Q: With the state reopening, how can business owners appropriately adjust operational plans to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19?

A: Please visit Idaho Rebounds official website to know what your operational plans should be according to Idaho’s Rebound plan. https://rebound.idaho.gov/business-specific-protocols-for-opening/

If you still feel unsure about how to change your operational plans after viewing the outline protocol for your type of business, please contact Southwest District Health for more guidance.

Q: We are considering reopening our business, what stipulations should we consider?

A: Businesses and Workplaces who are making decisions about reopening should:

  • Promote hand washing and encourage employees to wear a cloth face covering, as feasible
  • Intensify cleaning, disinfection, and ventilation
  • Encourage social distancing and enhance spacing between employees
  • Consider modifying travel and commuting practices
  • Promote telework for employees who do not live in the local area, if feasible
  • Train all employees on health and safety protocols

Please visit this link to a workplace decision tool that will help determine if you are ready to open. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/workplace-decision-tool.html

“Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes,” https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/reopen-guidance.html. Guidance for all to reduce the risk of exposure, using EPA-approved disinfectants against COVID-19 (https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2or), or bleach or 70% alcohol solutions.

Q: How long do companies need to close for disinfection after an exposure? How long before other workers can come back to work?

A: Companies do not necessarily need to close after a person with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 has been in a company facility. The area(s) used or visited by the ill person needs to be closed immediately and for at least 24 hours or as long as possible. Then, immediately clean and disinfect the entire area thoroughly. Open outside doors and windows as much as possible ensuring that doing so does not pose a safety risk to children using the facility (i.e. make sure that children are not able to enter the closed off area through any windows or doors) and use ventilating fans to increase air circulation in the area. Once the area has been appropriately disinfected, it can be opened for use. Workers without close contact to the person with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 can return to work immediately after disinfection is completed. The confirmed or suspected COVID-19 should work closely with Southwest District Health to determine when they can safely return to work.

Link to Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/reopen-guidance.html

If your company closed down for a prolonged period of time please visit this link for more guidance: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/building-water-system.html

Q: What type of cloth masks or facial coverings should or should not be worn?

A: The recommended cloth face coverings are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. The surgical masks and N-95 respirators are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

The proper use of simple cloth face coverings helps slow the spread of the COVID-19. Wearing a cloth face covering is a voluntary public health measure that helps people who may not know they have the virus from spreading it to others. Cloth face coverings, or cloth face masks, can be made from household items or common materials.

Please visit the following CDC website for more information on how to make masks at home with everyday materials such as a washable, breathable fabric, rubber bands (or hair ties), and scissors. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-to-make-cloth-face-covering.html

Q: How can I protect myself and my family from getting sick?

A: Do your part to respond to this emerging public health threat:

  • Be aware of the rapidly changing nature of the pandemic and do your part to stay current on the latest recommendations from public health officials. Frequently check coronavirus.idaho.gov and the websites for the local public health districts for the latest Idaho-specific information. If you can’t find a recommendation there, check coronavirus.gov.
  • Take everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of germs:
    • Wash your hands frequently
    • Avoid touching your face (eyes, nose, mouth) when out in public
    • Keep a distance of at least 6 feet from people who appear to have respiratory illness
    • If you cannot maintain 6 feet from people that do not live in your household, wear a cloth face covering or mask
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with the crook of your elbow or a tissue. If using a tissue, immediately throw the tissue away and wash hands for 20-seconds or sanitize hands with a 60% alcohol hand sanitizing solution. https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/show-me-the-science-hand-sanitizer.html
    • Stay home when you are sick

Know there are other common human coronaviruses that cause respiratory disease and these are not the same as the virus that causes COVID-19.

Follow public health travel recommendations to avoid unnecessary risk; these are available on the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html

It is currently flu and respiratory disease season; we recommend getting a flu vaccine to stay as healthy as possible. It is still cold and flu season, and you do not need to seek medical attention for a mild respiratory illness such as a cold.

If you or someone you know may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, call your medical provider to determine next steps. Do not attempt to enter a clinic without calling ahead.

If you have had close contact with a person with known COVID-19 or have recently traveled to an area with ongoing spread and you develop fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider and ask for instructions about how to seek COVID-19 testing and/or appropriate medical attention.

If you are sick or have been in close contact with a person who has COVID-19, a public health worker may call to let you know you’ve been exposed and ask you to stay at home and self-quarantine. Doing so keeps you, your family, and your community safe. Answer the call to be part of the solution and help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Q: How can we keep children safe from COVID-19?

A: Teach and reinforce everyday preventive actions:

  • Parents and caretakers play an important role in teaching children to wash their hands. Explain that hand washing can keep them healthy and stop the virus from spreading to others.
  • Be a good role model—if you wash your hands often, they’re more likely to do the same.
  • Make handwashing a family activity.
  • Learn more about what you can do to protect children.

Help your child stay active:

  • Encourage your child to play outdoors—it’s great for physical and mental health. Take a walk with your child or go on a bike ride.
  • Use indoor activity breaks (like stretch breaks or dance breaks) throughout the day to help your child stay healthy and focused.

Help your child stay socially connected:

Ask about school meal services:

Check with your school on plans to continue meal services during the school dismissal. Many schools are keeping school facilities open to allow families to pick up meals or are providing grab-and-go meals at a central location.

Q: What precautions can I take to prevent myself or others from getting sick when disinfecting?

A: To protect sanitation workers, households with residents infected or suspected to be infected with COVID-19 should carefully and tightly enclose any waste that may be contaminated with the virus in appropriate bags. Consider double-bagging the waste and ensure that curbside containers are not overfilled so the lids can close completely. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling any COVID-19 waste.

“Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes,” https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/reopen-guidance.html. Guidance for all to reduce the risk of exposure, using EPA-approved disinfectants against COVID-19 (https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2or), or bleach or 70% alcohol solutions.

Q: What is Contact Tracing?

A: Contact Tracing: Part of a Multipronged Approach to Fight the COVID-19 Pandemic highlights basic principles of contact tracing to stop COVID-19 transmission.

  • Contact tracing, a core disease control measure employed by local and state health department personnel for decades, is a key strategy for preventing further spread of COVID-19.
  • Communities considering strategies to scale up and train a large contact tracer workforce and work collaboratively across public and private agencies to stop the transmission of COVID-19.
  • In contact tracing, public health staff work with a patient to help them recall everyone with whom they have had close contact during the timeframe while they may have been infectious. Then they warn those contacts of their potential exposures as rapidly and sensitively as possible.
  • Contacts are provided with education, information, and support to understand their risk, what they should do to separate themselves from others who are not exposed and monitor themselves for illness, and the possibility that they could spread the infection to others even if they do not feel sick.
  • To protect patient privacy, contacts are only informed that they may have been exposed to a patient with the infection. They are not told the identity of the patient with the infection.

Q: How do you discontinue isolation for someone with COVID-19?

A: The CDC recommends that isolation be maintained for at least 10 days after illness onset and at least 3 days (72 hours) after recovery. Recovery is defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications with progressive improvement or resolution of other symptoms.

“Symptom-Based Strategy to Discontinue Isolation for Persons with COVID-19: Decision Memo,” https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/strategy-discontinue-isolation.html

Q: Does SWDH recommend any healthy living tips during COVID-19?

A: Yes. Southwest District Health recommends the following healthy living tips for COVID-19:

  • Stay active: Outdoor alternatives to being physical active can include walking, jogging, cycling, roller blading, or yoga and are just a few ways to stay active and stay in accordance with the CDC recommendations for social distancing and avoiding large crowds. Getting your heart rate up and strength training can be done successfully at home by marching in place, try chair squats, using water bottles or canned foods as weights, and being creative with other household materials to keep you moving. A gym or exercise equipment are not always necessary to stay physically active. Try body weight movements, which includes push-ups, sit-ups, jumping-jacks, jumping rope, air squats, lunges, planks, and other exercises in a sequence are great ways to stay active anywhere. Visit the CDC website for more information on Physical Activity Basics: https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/index.htm
  • Adequate sleep: Good sleep is essential to our overall health. According to The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the nation’s leading medical research agency: “Immune system activation alters sleep, and sleep in turn affects the innate and adaptive arm of our body’s defense system.” While the amount of sleep needed for good health and optimum performance mostly depends on the individual, the CDC recommends adults age 18-60 years get seven or more hours of sleep per night.

Check out “Support Your Health with Nutrition”: https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/preventing-illness/support-your-health-with-nutrition

See also: CDC, Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight

  • Self-care: Take time to take care of yourself. Be supportive and suggest the same for those close to you. Meditation, relaxation, quality time with family, personal care of yourself promotes overall wellness.
  • Healthcare maintenance: If you have medications prescribed for any condition, be sure to take them as directed by your provider. Chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma and many others should be kept in check with taking your medications as prescribed. Be sure to reach out to your healthcare provider with any concerns. Telehealth solutions are available if you want to speak with a provider about a health concern unrelated to COVID-19.
  • Cope with stress and anxiety: Positively cope with stress and anxiety induced by new precautions we must all now take to combat the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. Positive coping mechanisms would include physical activity, meditation, reading, further developing certain skills or hobbies etc. Use this time to increase your daily repetition of these positive activities and develop new or improve upon current routines that you may have followed prior to the emergence of the current COVID-19 pandemic. See also: CDC, Coping with Stress During COVID-19

In Idaho, COVID Help Now is a resource staffed by trained crisis counselors who will help callers assess their current situation and reaction and will provide coping mechanisms to reduce stress. COVID Help Now responders provide emotional support and aid for immediate crisis needs by connecting callers with resources in their own communities. The COVID Help Now Line is anonymous. Responders do not classify, label, or diagnose people, and no case records are taken. www.ioem.idaho.gov/covidhelpnow.

  • Stay connected: Talking with loved ones while in isolation can help reduce the anxiety and instances of feeling down. Take time to utilize the multitudes of technologies and apps (many are free) that can help you stay in touch with those you love. Our busy lives before the COVID-19 may have limited how often we connected with distant loved ones, now’s the time to fully exploit these modern capabilities for fellowship, companionship, and camaraderie.

Q: Should I take Vitamin D supplements to prevent or treat COVID-19?

A: There are insufficient data to recommend either for or against the use of vitamin D for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19.

The role of vitamin D supplementation in the prevention or treatment of COVID-19 is presently not known. The rationale for using vitamin D is based largely on its general immune system modulating effects, which could potentially protect against COVID-19 infection and/or decrease the severity of illness. Ongoing observational studies are evaluating the role of vitamin D in preventing and treating COVID-19. Also, investigational trials on the use of vitamin D in people with COVID-19 are being conducted. These trials are evaluating vitamin D alone, or in combination with other agents, to participants with and without vitamin D deficiency. The latest information on these clinical trials can be found on ClinicalTrials.gov.

If you are considering taking vitamin D supplement for general immune system health, the recommended daily dose is vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), 600-800 international units (IU), taken once daily.

A common approach is to check your vitamin D levels first to determine if you need to take a supplement; this requires a blood test ordered by your healthcare provider.

Vitamin D is naturally available in a variety of foods (fish, mushrooms, whole milk, yogurt, soymilk, pork, etc.) and is synthesized by your body when your skin is exposed to sunlight.

Always talk to your healthcare provider first before starting vitamin D or any other over-the-counter supplements. Please refer to the Guidance Documents section of the phd3.idaho.gov website for helpful documents.

Q: Should I take Zinc supplements to prevent or treat COVID-19?

A: There are insufficient data to recommend either for or against the use of zinc for the treatment of COVID-19.

SWDH, in alignment with the National Institutes of Health (“NIH”) COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel, recommends against using zinc supplementation above the recommended dietary allowance for the prevention of COVID-19, except in a clinical trial.

Q: Does Southwest District Health (SWDH) approve large events?

A: Southwest District Health does not approve events. Our staff provide guidance, recommendations, and help educate event coordinators on the health alert levels and highly recommend coordinators take into consideration the health alert levels in their county prior to scheduling and when planning and hosting an event.

Please note the following recommendations as they relate to the Health Alert Levels:

RED: Gatherings that bring people together from different households are not advised, recommended use of face masks, social distancing (i.e., eliminate opportunity for crowds and offer socially distanced seating between groups), limit density of persons in a confined area to a minimum of 1 person per 64 sq. ft. of space, and practicing good hygiene (to include hand and respiratory) etiquette

ORANGE: Gatherings that bring people together from different households are not advised, recommended use of face masks, social distancing (i.e., eliminate opportunity for crowds and offer socially distanced seating between groups), limit density of persons in a confined area to a minimum of 1 person per 64 sq. ft. of space, practicing good hygiene (to include hand and respiratory) etiquette

YELLOW: Recommend continued use of face masks, social distancing (i.e., eliminate opportunity for crowds and offer socially distanced seating between groups), limiting density of persons in a confined area to a minimum of 1 person per 64 sq. ft. of space during gatherings and events, and practicing good hygiene (to include hand and respiratory) etiquette

GRAY: Recommend practicing good hygiene (to include hand and respiratory) etiquette

While Southwest District Health does not have the authority to approve or endorse events, we appreciate the opportunity to provide consultation and feedback to the many agencies and businesses that reach out to our staff. We value their commitment to protecting the health of their communities.

Q: What is SWDH’s stance on implementing a mask mandate?

A: At this time, Southwest District Health’s Board of Health members do not support mandating face coverings. The Board of Health does recommend the use of face coverings when physical distancing cannot be maintained between non-household members to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. Businesses across the district have been responsive to SWDH’s current recommendations by adopting practices that allow for physical distancing and requiring masks for their staff and patrons. In addition, many people who live, work, and play in southwest Idaho are wearing a face covering to protect themselves and others despite not being mandated to do so. Southwest District Health recommends that individuals wear a face covering that completely covers the person’s nose and mouth when the person is in a public area where physical distancing of at least six (6) feet between non-household members is not possible.

Q: Does SWDH support a return to Stage 1 of COVID-19 reopening?

A: At this time, Southwest District Health’s Board of Health members do not support a return to Stage 1 of the COVID-19 reopening stages. Southwest District Health does recommend residents follow the guidance provided based on the current Health Alert Level where they live, work, and play. The guidance is based on the most current scientific evidence and includes personal and community-based strategies known to decrease the spread of COVID-19. You can learn more at https://phd3.idaho.gov/.

Q:  Will Southwest District Health follow suit with Central District Health’s decision to rollback to phase 3?

A:  At this point, Southwest District Health does not have plans to implement further restrictions for its six county region which includes Adams, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, and Washington Counties.

Q: Is SWDH working to increase messaging about spread prevention protocols?

A: Southwest District Health has been pushing out clear, consistent messaging about physical distancing, mask wearing, and hand hygiene through our social media channels and website. In addition, we have staff working in liaison roles to provide in-person and on-site guidance and expertise to businesses, event planners, elected officials, long-term care facilities, and jails.

Q: Why do some state’s COVID-19 case numbers sometimes differ from what is posted on CDC’s website?

A: CDC’s overall case numbers are validated through a confirmation process with jurisdictions. The process used for finding and confirming cases displayed by different places may differ.

Q: How do CDC’s COVID-19 case numbers compare with those provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) or Johns Hopkins?

A: CDC’s COVID-19 case numbers include many publicly reported numbers, including information from state, local, territorial, international and external partners.

Q: Why are we seeing discrepancies in number of deaths reported?

Periodic discrepancies due to the different times the District and the state pull data for the daily reports will occur. In an effort to minimize discrepancies, our staff are working to run reports at the same time as the state.  As this situation is ever evolving, all data are preliminary and subject to change.

Q: I have heard that there are phone scams related to COVID-19, what should I look out for to protect my information?

  • The public are getting calls that appear to—through caller ID or voicemail messages—come from CDC, and sometimes the caller requests a donation. These calls are a scam and are referred to as government impersonation fraud.
  • Federal agencies do not request donations from the public. Do not give out your personal information, including banking information, Social Security Number, or other personally identifiable information over the phone or to individuals you do not know.
  • Downloadable apps and some free websites now make it simple for someone to “spoof” a phone call and make it appear to come from any phone number. A spoofed call does not mean that anyone’s telephone has been hacked.
  • If you get a call that is harassing or threatening (from any phone number) or from a spoofed CDC line where the caller claims to work for CDC, you may report these calls to the Federal Communications Commission. The Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Department of Justice also provide more information about these types of scams on their websites. Material adapted from CDC Cybersecurity Program Office communication.

Q: Is SWDH working to develop infrastructure for free testing?

A: Southwest District Health provides limited access to free rapid testing for symptomatic first responders, long-term care facility staff, teachers and school staff, and public health district employees and correctional facilities. The district is also working with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and the Veterans Administration in Boise on projects to enhance testing capacity and early detection of cluster outbreaks in congregate settings across the six-county district.

Q: How can people trust public officials when guidance has been unclear and is constantly changing?

A: We understand it is frustrating that guidance continues to change. It’s the job of public health officials to tell you what we know, when we know it, and guidance regarding COVID-19 has evolved as our understanding of the virus evolves.

Public health officials and scientists are continuing to learn about how this virus spreads, how it affects different people, and how best to control it. As knowledge evolves and scientists discover new information about COVID-19, public health officials are committed to providing accurate and timely guidance.

Q: Are Idaho units of government still required to follow Idaho’s Open Meetings Law?

A: Yes. Government is still required to follow the Idaho Open Meetings Law.  Notices and agendas should be posted in compliance with the law.  In a recent proclamation, the Governor only suspended the “in-person” attendance requirement—but only if the governmental entity can ensure that the public has the opportunity to either listen in via teleconference, observe and listen through streaming, or attend via other online platforms.  If the system for observing and listening is not functioning, government should postpone the meeting until the system is working.  Additionally, there is no authorization within the law for the conduct of meetings or votes within boards by e-mail. Government should comply with the Open Meetings Law throughout the application of the Governor’s orders.

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