Blaine County didn’t add any cases of COVID-19 overnight, holding steady at 499 lab-confirmed and 11 probable cases of the disease, according to the South Central Public Health District. Only six cases are still being monitored by public health officials. As so-called cluster testing started ramping up, though, the rest of the Health District wasn’t so lucky, seeing its largest single-day caseload jump in weeks. Here’s that story, plus more headlines from Friday, May 22.
• At least 30 positive tests at a single food processing plant in Jerome contributed to an overnight spike in COVID-19 cases across the Health District on Friday, officials announced. Twin Falls County alone added 32 confirmed cases of the disease overnight, while Jerome County added 23, Cassia County 18, Minidoka County 11 and Gooding County 6. In all, the Health District has 91 more cases today than yesterday—1,065 in all. That’s the result of more testing in targeted areas, according to health officials.
“We are in an area where agriculture is the dominant industry and food processing plants are a huge part of that,” said Logan Hudson, SCPHD Public Health Division Administrator. “The nature of some of these jobs require people to work closely together, making social distancing difficult. Respiratory viruses, like COVID-19, are in the perfect environment to spread rapidly.”
This comes at a time when “resistance” to measures aimed at stemming the disease is on the rise, SCPHD spokeswoman Brianna Bodily said in a statement.
“Up to this point, contacts within COVID-19 investigations have been very willing to do what they can to help prevent the spread of this disease,” Bodily said. “However, investigators are seeing more resistance within the community and urge people to take this disease seriously, and do what they can to prevent and slow the spread.”
• Meanwhile, today was the final day of drive-thru testing at St. Luke’s Wood River in Ketchum. Read about what to do instead here.
• Despite the virus, seniors at Wood River High School celebrated a makeshift, socially distanced graduation with a parade through Hailey and Bellevue on Wednesday. Our Roland Lane was there with his camera to document it all.
• Rural Idahoans have long faced challenges finding mental health care, Gretel Kauffman writes, but the pandemic has actually opened up new opportunities. Click here to read her story about one “silver lining” to COVID-19.
• Amid seemingly endless cancellations, the Sun Valley Music Festival sought a different solution, and is now hard at work to shift its entire summer series to an online format. Click here for Chris Melville's report.
• Finally, fishing season opens tomorrow—and anglers are itching to get back on the water. Here’s Emily Jones’ feature on how fly fishing fits into a coronavirus world.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is reporting 2,595 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 on Friday, an increase of 61 from yesterday. That data is incomplete, though, and doesn’t include all updates from South Central Public Health. According to the Department, 79 people have died, and 1,735 have recovered.
For more on the outbreak—plus the rest of your local news—pick up today’s copy of the Idaho Mountain Express. Or, check back with mtexpress.com anytime for more updates.