20-05-13 Antibody Testing Ketchum 11 Roland.jpg

Tuesday, May 12, 2020. Antibody testing at the YMCA parking lot in Ketchum.

The South Central Public Health District reports young adults to be the highest percentage of people who have been infected with COVID-19 in the district. State statistics show that Idahoans aged 18-29 exhibit the greatest concentration of coronavirus infections.

Five of the South Central Public Health District’s eight counties have the highest number of COVID-19 cases within that age group: Cassia, Gooding, Jerome, Minidoka and Twin Falls counties. In Blaine County, the largest demographic of COVID-19 patients is the age range of 50-59, making up 23 percent of cases, but ages 18-29 and 30-39 combined make up 27 percent of total county cases.

State data also shows the highest percentage of COVID-19 infections among young adults ages 18-39, with the largest case numbers in age group 18-29 and the second largest in age group 30-39.

“These are often the people we see wor-

king in our essential jobs,” South Central Public Health District Division Director Logan Hudson said in a statement on June 18. “They are exposed to hundreds of people every day, which puts them at greater risk of contracting COVID-19. We can protect them by wearing masks and urging the people around us to practice social distancing.”

As clusters of cases continue to sprout up, one health district has opted to reverse course in the state’s reopening stages and others continue to urge caution.

One week into reopening bars in Ada County, the Central Health District reported an outbreak that started June 5-6 in the downtown Boise bar scene after 10 people visited multiple bars while infectious on June 5, according to a statement from the Health District on June 11. On Monday, the district decided to return Ada County to Stage 3 from Stage 4, with a stipulation ordering bars to close beginning Wednesday, June 24.

The rest of Idaho remains in Stage 4, the final phase of the governor’s plan to reopen the state’s economy.

On May 30, Blaine County moved with the rest of the state into Stage 3, which allowed bars to open and gatherings of groups of no more than 50 people. Since then, it has seen an increase of eight confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing its total from 501 on June 1 to 509 on June 23. While this is good news for the county, it still remains the county with the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the South Central Public Health District, with Twin Falls County closing the gap with 426 confirmed cases and 88 probable cases as of Tuesday.

St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center in Ketchum closed its drive-thru testing tent on May 26, shifting most of its testing operation to the Family Medicine Clinic in Hailey. From that day until June 18—three weeks’ time—the clinic tested 104 people, according to St. Luke’s Public Relations Manager Joy Prudek. That’s just about five per day.

(Those interested in being screened and tested still need to call the triage line, 208-381-9500, or use the hospital’s self-triage tool on its website to schedule a swab time.)

“While Blaine County has not seen many new cases, it is important to continue with social distancing, good infection prevention and, in particular, wearing a mask,” Prudek said.

The health district agrees. Its staff continues to urge residents to maintain social distancing measures and to protect themselves and their community by washing their hands regularly and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces.

“We are also calling on our young adults to be extra careful with their health,” district Director Melody Bowyer said in the June 18 press release. “They are less likely to die from COVID-19 but that doesn’t mean they can’t get very sick. If you contract COVID-19 there is also the possibility of unintentionally passing the disease on to someone who won’t fare as well, like a grandparent or loved one with a compromised immune system.”

The health district continues to run two hotlines for information about COVID-19, one in English at 208-737-1138 and one in Spanish at 208-737-5965, Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. In addition, St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center continues to offer COVID-19 testing.

Nationwide, as of Tuesday, the COVID-19 pandemic has killed 120,333 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Statewide, 89 people have died with the virus, including five Blaine County residents.

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