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Bingham County sees new COVID-19 death; EIPH passes Regional COVID-19 Response Plan

Coronavirus

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IDAHO FALLS — Another eastern Idahoan has died as a result of a COVID-19 infection.

On Friday, the Southeast Idaho Public Health District reported eastern Idaho’s fourth COVID-19 death — a Bingham County man in his 90s. Health officials say he had been hospitalized due to complications from the virus before finally succumbing. Health officials say no other information will be released about the man.

“My heart is with the family, friends, and neighbors who are grieving,” SIPH District Director Maggie Mann said. “Now more than ever, each of us must do our part to prevent the spread of this virus. We all must do what we can to keep each other safe.”

It is the second death in Bingham County. There have also been single deaths in Bannock and Bonneville counties. All four of the deaths have been senior citizens.

The death comes as eastern Idaho sees its biggest surge of coronavirus cases to date, and as the topic of mandatory mask ordinances is hotly debated in local communities.

As of Friday, the number of confirmed or probable cases in eastern Idaho is 904 (736 confirmed and 168 probable), according to Eastern Idaho Public Health and Southeast Idaho Public Health District. However, the majority of initially infected people are no longer sick. There are 303 people who are still symptomatic and are being monitored by either district. That means a little over 600 eastern Idahoans have now recovered from the coronavirus.

A case is considered probable if a person has not been tested, or a test is pending, and the person has all the symptoms of COVID-19, has come into direct contact with an infected person and developed symptoms within the expected timeframe. As probable cases are confirmed or found to be negative they are removed from the list.

Due to the sharp increase in cases over the past few weeks, Eastern Idaho Public Health created a Regional COVID-19 Response Plan. The plan dictates how counties respond when they reach a threshold of active cases. The threshold varies depending on the population of the county. The plan is divided into four different sections that are color-coded — green (minimal risk), yellow (moderate risk), orange (high risk) and red (critical risk).

At the moment, all eastern Idaho counties are listed at low-risk, except for Teton County, which is in the moderate risk category. Teton County’s threshold was 12 active cases, and at the moment they have 15, according to EIPH.

Under the order, social gatherings and events, both public and private, of more than 150 are prohibited. Plus, every person in Teton County is required to wear a face-covering that completely covers the person’s nose and mouth when the person is in a public place and other non-household members are present and physical distancing of 6 feet cannot be maintained.

RELATED: Eastern Idaho Public Health asking for feedback regarding COVID-19 Regional Response Plan

The cities of Driggs and Victor had already adopted citywide mandatory mask ordinances, but the health plan makes the order countywide.

As per the plan, facial coverings aren’t required under the following circumstances:

  • Children under the age of 2.
  • Persons with a medical condition, mental health conditions, or a disability that prevent them from wearing a face covering. A person is not required to provide documentation demonstrating that the person cannot tolerate wearing a face covering.
  • Persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, or communicating with a person who is deaf or hard of hearing, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
  • Persons, including on-duty law enforcement officers, for whom wearing a face covering would create a risk to the person related to their work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.
  • Persons who are obtaining a service involving the nose, face, or head for which temporary removal of the face-covering is necessary to perform the service.
  • Persons who are eating or drinking at a restaurant or other establishment that offers food or beverage service, so long as they are seated at a table and able to maintain a distance of 6 feet from persons who are not members of the same household or party as the person. This exemption does not apply to entry, exit, or other movement throughout the facility.

If other eastern Idaho counties reach their threshold, a mandatory mask order would also go into effect, even if cities haven’t made the decision by themselves. At the moment, the city councils in Idaho Falls, Pocatello and Rexburg have discussed emergency mask ordinances, but none have opted to move forward with them.

The Teton County order went into effect July 16 and lasts for 14 days. At that time, the risk level for Teton County will be re-assessed.

“If each and everyone one of us would start doing these things now, it could help us from having to progress into higher risk levels. No one wants another shut down of our businesses and economy, so the EIPH Board of Health asks for everyone’s support in this effort,” EIPH Board of Health Chairman Bryon Reed said in the news release.

“>For more information about the Regional COVID-19 Response Plan click here.

Statewide Numbers

Over the last 10 days COVID-19 cases statewide have surged.

Since July 8, the total number of confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases statewide rose from 8,969 to 13,725 (12,883 confirmed and 869 probable) as of Friday afternoon. The vast majority of those cases are either still fighting the virus or have lived at least 30 days since initial infection and are presumed recovered. The most recent numbers indicate about 3,827 people have successfully recovered from COVID-19.

COVID-19 has an extremely high recovery rate, and the vast majority of people who catch the virus will recover at home with no problems. So far, only 570 people in the entire state have required hospitalization for COVID-19 since mid-March. Some of those cases were very severe and involved hospital stays in excess of 50 days, according to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center and Idaho Falls Community Hospital officials.

RELATED: COVID-19 patient discharged after nearly 50-day stay at I.F. Community Hospital; possible exposure at Pocatello Perkins

The death toll in Idaho is rising, although not by a lot, and the fatality rate continues to decline overall statewide. In the last 10 days, the death count went from 98 to 118. Of those, 96 are confirmed COVID-19 deaths, and 22 are probable.

A probable COVID-19 death includes those who didn’t receive a viral test, but who came into contact with an infected individual, showed signs of COVID-19, and symptoms developed in the expected timeframe. Additionally, a death is probable, when a doctor or coroner indicates COVID-19 contributed to a death on a death certificate, using only clinical criteria to diagnose them. See the criteria here.

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Officials urge health precautions

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and our local health districts encourage everyone to practice preventive measures to help minimize the spread of COVID-19. This includes staying home if you’re sick, physical distancing, washing hands frequently and wearing face coverings in public when physical distancing is not possible.

For questions regarding COVID-19, call EIPH’s call center at (208) 522-0310 or toll free at (855) 533-3160 to speak with someone. The call center is open Mon. through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. In addition, questions can be submitted via email to COVIDQuestions@eiph.idaho.gov or on their Facebook page.

For more COVID-19 news, click here.

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