In March, we learned how quickly COVID-19 can spread in our community. As we discovered more about this coronavirus, we worked to develop a better picture of its prevalence in our community. This understanding has been pivotal in developing strategies for protection, mitigation and suppression of COVID.
Over the past several months, an Adaptive Planning Committee was formed composed of members representing government, business, schools, nonprofits and the medical community. This group has shared information, established metrics and delivered corresponding recommendations that can be easily understood and adopted. Thanks to the implementation of the recommended procedures and protocols by our community, Blaine County has been able to slow the spread of COVID as well as protect our economic well-being.
Regardless of where we stand now, the preventive measures need to continue on in our daily lives. Safety must remain a priority (distancing, hand washing and mask wearing). Detection of cases of COVID-19 is also top priority. The ultimate goal would be to have mechanisms to understand our current state, look ahead two to three weeks and have guidance on how we stay healthy and safe while conducting our daily life with this virus.
One of our biggest risks for future COVID-19 flare-ups is the makeup of our community. We are a tourist destination with a highly transient population. We celebrate the vitality and vibrancy inherent in being a tourist destination. Asymptomatic people account for about half the transmission of COVID, and visitors may unknowingly be infectious or travel from areas of community spread. Given this, we believe a proactive and conservative approach is warranted for the Wood River Valley.
After careful review, we believe that the COVID-19 Blaine County risk level plan (co.blaine.id.us/DocumentCenter/View/13048/COVID-19-Blaine-County-Risk-Level-Plan-draft-9242020), which is based on the Harvard Global Health Institute’s, is the best plan of action to continue to perpetuate the positive track in suppressing COVID-19. This plan comes with more specific and conservative initiatives than others, yet it allows us to protect our health and way of life more adequately. The South Central Public Health District endorses using the Harvard Global Health Initiative’s guidelines, particularly for Blaine County given the nature of our demographics and transient population. The Blaine County School District is also using the HGHI model to give students the greatest chance of success of being able to conduct in-person learning.
Having a unified system that gives an easy-to-understand barometer to our community and visitors has the ability to not only inform but also set a plan in place to mitigate progression of the virus. For instance, depending on the level of virus, scaling up and down on occupancy or size of gatherings or virtual vs. in-person learning or worship can help avoid a complete shutdown or shelter in place. It’s important to keep in mind how quickly and dramatically
our health and welfare were impacted in March. This plan will help avoid a recurrence.
We know the community and our leaders are fatigued by this virus, but it is still young, and we are still learning. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to do everything in our power to suppress COVID for the health of our residents, family, friends and neighbors as well as for the vitality of our businesses, in-person schooling and our way of life.
The Adaptive Planning Committee members are Blaine County, St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center, Visit Sun Valley, the Blaine County School District, The Hunger Coalition and the South Central Public Health District.