Coronavirus Conference

South Central Public Health District Director Melody Bowyer announced Blaine County's first confirmed case of coronavirus in mid March. Contact tracers have been tracking every case since. 

Update 10 p.m.: South Central Public Health District announced the health district's second case of COVID-19 Saturday evening. Blaine County spokesman Larry Schoen confirmed that the second diagnosis is also in Blaine County. The patient is a female over 70 who is hospitalized and recovering. The point of transmission is currently unknown and remains under investigation. 

The South Central Public Health District announced Blaine County's first confirmed case of coronavirus during a press conference alongside the county commissioners in Hailey early Saturday afternoon, March 14. 

It is the second confirmed case of coronavirus in Idaho, with the first confirmed yesterday by Gov. Brad Little during a 5 p.m. press conference.  

According to the health district, staff was notified late Friday night of the positive test results. The tested samples were drawn by a local provider in Blaine County and sent to the Idaho Bureau of Laboratories on Friday, where they were then tested. Logan Hudson, public health division administrator for the health district, will lead a contact investigation that will determine the patient’s whereabouts over the past 14 days.  

The woman is in her 50s and is displaying moderate symptoms but not severe symptoms, Hudson said. She is self-quarantined in her home in Blaine County. 

The woman was traveling in a neighboring state prior to developing symptoms, Hudson said. He could not disclose what state the woman had traveled to, but did say that at the time of her travels there were no confirmed COVID-19 cases in that state.  

According to South Central Public Health District officials, the woman acted appropriately and followed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention procedures, including calling into work as soon as she felt symptoms, which included coughing, fever and shortness of breath. The woman self-isolated and did not go out in public. There is no increased risk to schools, grocery stories, or businesses in Blaine County due to her diagnosis, Hudson said. 

“We are working as fast as humanly possible to conduct this investigation,” South Central Public Health District Director Melody Bowyer said. “This is what we prepare, train, and do everyday.”  

Neither the health district nor county staff specified how the woman became infected, or where she lives in Blaine County.  

“I think it’s important to respect this person’s privacy,” Blaine County spokesman Larry Schoen told the Idaho Mountain Express in an interview. “She did everything she was supposed to do. Now, South Central Public Health District is conducting a thorough investigation, and they will follow up with anyone who has come in contact with the individual.” 

Blaine County School District Superintendent GwenCarol Holmes was also present at the press conference. After the announcement, she could not confirm whether or not the district would close schools. 

“Can’t tell you at this point,” Holmes told the Idaho Mountain Express.  

On Friday morning, prior to announcing the first case, Little declared Idaho in a state of emergency over coronavirus. The Blaine County commissioners quickly followed suit, verbally declaring a countywide state of emergency during a special meeting following the Governor’s address. The board expects to formalize that declaration during the commission’s regular meeting on Tuesday, Commissioner Angenie McCleary said at Saturday’s press conference. 

Neither the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority Board, nor the three county commissioners—all of whom sit on the airport board—have power to shut down or limit airport activity in Hailey, Blaine County Commissioner Jacob Greenberg said on Saturday. But, the airport board has been in communication with Airport Manager Chris Pomeroy and the Federal Aviation Administration about options, he told reporters. Any action “will be in conjunction with the FAA,” Greenberg said. McCleary added that the airport has implemented increase sanitation and cleaning efforts.  

Asked by the Idaho Mountain Express regarding whether there has been an increase second home owners coming into the Wood River Valley to ride out the storm, Greenberg said he could only speak anecdotally, and could give no accurate information on who entering or leaving Blaine County.  

Regardless, everyone in the community should follow guidelines from the South Central Public Health District and the CDC, Greenberg said. 

This is a developing story. For more information and regular updates, stay with mtexpress.com.

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