Over the years you have trusted us with your heart attacks, strokes, insect bites and the marble in your kid’s nose. We have always been grateful for the opportunity to help you in your time of need. We give advice about backcountry safety and avoiding blindness during a total eclipse of the sun. We feel the need to reach out to you today, because everything you have ever needed from us pales in comparison to COVID-19. No joke.

You have heard that we have been impacted, along with many at St. Luke’s Wood River and our fellow health-care professionals worldwide. Yes, most will recover and get back to work, resilient and immune (we think). But some will not recover. It is serious, it is here and we are dedicated to helping you in your time of need.

It’s frustrating and scary. We know the hotlines are busy and the hospital you come to for lunch, a joint replacement or to bring your child into the world is challenged. Unfortunately, it will get worse before it gets better. You have heard it takes anywhere from four to 14 days to get a test result back. We have tested over 500 people, most in the past week. But people are sick, and as we progress along the curve, the severity of illness increases. The numbers don’t tell the full story. Coronavirus is here and it is bad.

We want you to know, given the community spread, that you should not wait for the test or test result. There are measures you can take now to protect yourself, your family, friends, neighbors and way of life. Self-isolate. Don’t leave the Wood River Valley to recreate elsewhere. It’s well known that we have a very high rate of infection; 5B plates are not going to be welcomed outside of Blaine County. Moab and Twin Falls don’t need our virus. Stay home. Save lives.

While we have amazing recreation, culture, events and more, the true spirit of our community is that we care for each other. When a friend has an accident or is diagnosed with cancer, we rally. Blaine County is composed of altruistic, philanthropic and kind people. So, here’s your chance to make the biggest impact. It’s so important and so simple. STAY AT HOME! Abide by the self-isolation order. Go out for groceries, health care or exercise. But PLEASE, practice social distancing and good infection prevention like washing your hands. We ask you to choose low-risk recreation. This is not the time for a broken clavicle or hip. Our first responders are stretched to the limits.

So please, for us, for your family, for the vulnerable you fight for in supporting our nonprofits, take this seriously. If you don’t, the number of sick, critically ill and deaths in our valley will rise. We will rebuild our economy, but we cannot bring back those we lose. We implore you to do the right thing. We can have a curve like Italy’s or flatten it like South Korea’s.

You can save lives by abiding by the self-isolation order. You can be the heroes this time. This is our ask of you. We are all in this together as a community, and we can only succeed together.

Thank you.

Drs. Terry O’Connor, Malie Kopplin, Deb Robertson, Jim Torres, Brock Bemis, Keith Sivertson, Terry Ahern and Brent Russell are Wood River emergency physicians.

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