Heading into the weekend, Blaine County had 528 confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus.
But, with tourist season in full swing, it’s likely an underestimation, according to the South Central Public Health District.
That’s because positive coronavirus cases for those who do not claim residency in the county or the state are not counted towards the health district’s numbers. Rather, they are counted in whatever county or state where that individual lives. Visitors who test positive in Blaine County will not contribute to Blaine County’s total case count, meaning the number of COVID-19 cases could be higher than the 528 reflected on the state’s coronavirus website, South Central Public Health District spokeswoman Brianna Bodily told the Idaho Mountain Express.
“Health districts do not count the test results of people who live outside our jurisdiction,” Bodily said. “I think it’s fair to say we are all concerned.”
In areas of high tourism like Blaine County, it is possible visitors are being tested locally, but results will not make it back to the health district, meaning the data presented on the health district and state’s coronavirus pages could be significantly lower than the actual number of positive COVID-19 cases in the region.
“This method of data collection and reporting is one that was devised and agreed upon by all 50 states to ensure no one is missed or counted twice, but it does mean that SCPHD doesn’t always know when a visitor has tested positive for the disease,” Bodily said.
The health district is looking into methods that would give “a better picture” of how many positive tests are recorded in areas with high visitor traffic, Bodily said.
Blaine County continues to have the highest rate of COVID-19 cases in the state, at a rate of 2,336.2 per every 100,000 people as of Saturday—considerably more than the next-highest infection rate, Jerome’s 966.1 per 100,000 people.
For the full story, see the Wednesday edition of the Mountain Express.