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Pilots from the Idaho National Guard performed a flyover salute of Idaho hospitals, including St. Luke’s Hailey Clinic and Wood River Medical Center on Friday, May 15, to thank first responders for all their efforts fighting the COVID-19 outbreak.

As restaurants, salons and gyms prepare to reopen this weekend, Blaine County added one case of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total to 497 lab-confirmed and 11 probable cases of the coronavirus, according to the South Central Public Health District. Of those, only 11 are still being monitored by health officials. Friday’s issue of the Idaho Mountain Express brings you a story on the people tasked with tracking those patients, and more. Here are your headlines from Friday, May 15.

• The South Central Public Health District’s fleet of contact tracers—whose job it is to keep tabs on the sick, and those they interact with—is down from dozens to fewer than ten this week, Alejandra Buitrago writes. But their role monitoring the outbreak isn’t over. For many patients in isolation, they’ve been a lifeline to the outside world.

• Speaking of the Health District, South Central upgraded its coronavirus tracking webpage to include more detailed demographic and change-over-time data. Click here to browse the new display on phd5.idaho.gov.

• The pandemic has kickstarted online telehealth in Idaho, allowing doctors and patients to manage care in isolation, Buitrago writes. From mid-March on, more than 11,000 telehealth visits have occurred throughout the St. Luke’s Health System, according to St. Luke’s Wood River Public Relations Manager Joy Prudek. Prudek said there are about 700 visits per day using telehealth.

Don’t expect that to change when things return to some semblance of normal.

“This type of thing is the future of medicine,” St. Luke’s physician Dr. Frank Batcha told the Express.

• Earlier this month, the Blaine County Recreation District rolled out safety protocols for its youth summer camps. Registration for those programs is now open, Jeff Cordes writes.

• The Bellevue Public Library will resume curbside service on Monday, Chris Melville writes. Click here to learn more.

• While the pandemic shut down much of the national economy, it’s meant brisk business for online streaming services—and brought a lot of eyes to Valley local Josh Pate’s new Netflix adventure series, “Outer Banks.” Melville sat down with Pate (digitally, of course) to hear more about the chart-topping show.

As of 5 p.m. on Friday, Idaho had 2,389 confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus, 38 more than yesterday, according to the Department of Health and Welfare. Seventy-three people have died, and 1,588 have recovered from the disease. Pick up a copy of today’s Idaho Mountain Express for more on the outbreak, including our cover story on how restaurants are preparing to get back to business. Or, check mtexpress.com anytime for breaking news.

Email the writer: mdee@mtexpress.com

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