20-04-15 St. Luke's Coronavirus Testing 1 Roland.jpg

Coronavirus testing in April outside the St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center in Ketchum.

As of Wednesday evening, Blaine County had only added one new case of COVID-19 in the past week, according to the South Central Public Health District, bringing the total to 489 lab-confirmed and 10 probable cases of the disease.

In Ketchum, though, St. Luke’s Wood River’s drive-thru testing center remains open and continues to see test-seekers.

 Over the past two weeks, the drive-thru center has seen daily numbers in the high teens to low 20s, according to St. Luke’s Wood River Public Relations Manager Joy Prudek. Of those pulling in for the procedure, 50 to 60 percent have received tests.

Currently, St. Luke’s continues to follow the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations for administering tests. It prioritizes testing for people with severe COVID-19-like symptoms, including fever or shortness of breath, or those who know they came in contact with someone confirmed to have had the virus. It typically doesn’t test people who don’t check those boxes.

St. Luke’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. James P. Souza may expand testing thresholds in the coming weeks to include those showing lesser or no symptoms, Prudek said. For now, though, patients not reporting a fever or shortness of breath or known contact with someone positive for the virus might not receive testing. The health system has also discussed initiating targeted testing throughout the state in specific congregated living spaces, such as long-term nursing care facilities and prisons, but no actions had been taken as of Thursday.

New cases could rise soon. In concert with the first stage of Gov. Brad Little’s plan to reopen Idaho’s economy, Blaine County cities began lifting restrictions a week ago. It takes about a week for a trend to appear following a change of restrictions, Prudek said.  

Meanwhile, hospital facilities continue to work at the same level they have for the past month. The Family Medicine Clinic in Hailey reopened on a limited basis April 6 and the walk-in clinic for non-COVID illnesses and injuries continues to operate in the Physician Office Annex Building south of Ketchum daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Prudek said hospital staff regularly reviews medical charts to make sure patients in need of critical wellness visits get seen in a timely manner. In addition, some outpatient surgeries are scheduled, and the maternity ward has seen nearly a dozen births in the past month.

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