Gem and Owyhee Counties move to yellow alert level; Payette County remains in the red alert level

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Gem and Owyhee Counties move to yellow alert level; Payette County remains in the red alert level

*2nd Amended News Release*

CALDWELL, IDAHO – Earlier this week, Southwest District Health (SWDH) staff reassessed the levels for each county based on data and information available for the date range of August 30, 2020 – September 12, 2020. Gem County and Owyhee County moved from orange to yellow alert levels. Payette County remains in the red alert level. Adams County remains in the gray level. Canyon County and Washington County remain in the orange level.

A brief summary of factors included in determining each county’s health alert level is listed below:

ADAMS COUNTY – Health Alert Level: Gray

Adams County will remain in the gray health alert level, due to a low COVID-19 incidence rate[1]. Adams County saw a daily incidence rate of 0.168 per 10,000 people over the date range analyzed. Only one COVID-19 case was reported during this date range. To protect this individual’s privacy, our public health alert level dashboard will not be available for Adams County.

 CANYON COUNTY – Health Alert Level: Orange

Canyon County will stay in the orange health alert level, with a decreasing COVID-19 daily incidence rate, declining rate of cluster outbreaks, and stability in Canyon County healthcare systems. Canyon County has a daily incidence rate of 1.65 daily new cases per 10,000 people, which is trending down. Fourteen congregate living facilities are seeing cluster outbreaks[2]. Additionally, healthcare staffing and PPE supplies have stabilized during the date range analyzed. Multiple schools in Canyon County are seeing sporadic, imported cases of COVID-19 with no known outbreaks.

 GEM COUNTY – Health Alert Level: Yellow

Gem County will move to the yellow health alert level. Gem County currently has a daily incidence rate of 2.13 daily cases per 10,000 people, which is trending up, but is largely due to an isolated cluster outbreak. This outbreak makes up the vast majority of new cases in Gem County, and is driving many of the metrics typically used to determine risk within a community. SWDH epidemiologists are accounting for this in the decision making process and consider this as low risk to the Gem County community as a whole. Two congregate care facilities are facing sustained COVID-19 outbreaks. 76% of new cases that were contacted knew where they were exposed to COVID-19, which points to low risk of community spread.

 OWYHEE COUNTY – Health Alert Level: Yellow

Owyhee County will move to the yellow health alert level, due to a decreasing COVID-19 incidence rate, as well as all cluster outbreaks being a result of essential gatherings such as workplace or household exposure. Owyhee County currently has a daily incidence rate of 1.21 daily cases per 10,000 people, which is trending down for the fifth week in a row. One Owyhee County school saw an imported case of COVID-19 with no known outbreaks. Staff and students are taking precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

 PAYETTE COUNTY – Health Alert Level: Red

Payette County is to remain in the red health alert level, due to a high COVID-19 incidence rate, as well as evidence of sustained community spread. Payette County has a daily incidence rate of 3.37 daily new cases per 10,000 people which is decreasing. Only 49.37% of confirmed cases know where they were exposed to COVID-19, which points to sustained community spread. SWDH epidemiologists are concerned by cluster outbreaks from local workplace settings, as well as household clusters. Payette County schools are seeing sporadic, imported cases of COVID-19 with no known outbreaks.

WASHINGTON COUNTY – Health Alert Level: Orange

Washington County will remain in the orange health alert level, due to a high positivity rate, as well as a high daily incidence rate. Washington County currently has a daily incidence rate of 3.37 daily cases per 10,000 people, which did not change from last week. A very high positivity rate of 20.18% is concerning to SWDH epidemiologists. Washington County schools are not currently seeing any cases within their schools, although some family exposure is resulting in quarantine.

As daily incidence rates across much of the six-county region continue to trend downward, schools continue to be impacted by the virus. In order to comply with appropriate privacy regulations and constraints, Southwest District Health does not release information on cases within schools on a school-specific or building-specific basis but does provide a summary of COVID-19 cases within schools on a county level. Individual schools or school districts determine what information to release regarding cases based on legal counsel advice and constraints of privacy regulations.

As of today, the following information on cases schools is available.

Adams: No current isolation or quarantine
Canyon:  Isolation:  8 students, 3 staff;  Quarantine:  107
Gem:  Isolation:  1 staff
Owyhee:  Isolation:  2 students, 2 staff; Quarantine:  200
Payette:  Isolation:  4 students, 1 staff Quarantine:  13 students
Washington:  Quarantine:  3 students

The number of students quarantined is reflective of the amount of students currently in quarantine on the day the data are pulled and may not account for students who have been released from quarantine or are just entering quarantine.

Across the district, in-person learning is being conducted at twelve school districts, five charter schools, and one private school. Hybrid learning is being conducted in six school districts and two charter schools.

In alignment with CDC recommendations, Southwest District Health staff continue to recommend a 14-day quarantine period for students and all other individuals who have come into close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19. Some schools are considering advocating for shorter quarantine periods citing other concerns including lost time in the classroom and mental health impacts.

Residents are encouraged to keep practicing preventive measures to help our region stay healthy and stay open. Steps include :

  • Maintain physical distancing and stay six feet apart from people not in your household
  • Wear a face covering when physical distancing cannot be maintained
  • Gather outdoors with a small group
  • Sanitize and wash your hands often
  • Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces often

Information including latest local numbers and data is 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: 

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

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