We have different types of alarms in our life in order to be prepared and to remind us of things that are important. Some alarms we can hit snooze on, or even ignore, but most of the time we need to heed them. We have had alarms go off for seven months about COVID, we know there’s fatigue, but we cannot hit snooze.

Right now, the Blaine County Risk Level Dashboard is sounding a loud alarm. This alarm requires action. The dashboard metrics show we have entered “critical risk” for uncontrolled spread of COVID-19. It means we are at a tipping point.

Our cases from Oct. 4-10 are higher than the week before we went to shelter in place in March.  This time, we have mitigation measures in place and hope to avoid that blunt tool. No one wants that to happen again. No one. It affects our kids, our economy, our mental health and our long-term physical health.

However, unlike March, our state is also experiencing a surge in cases and regional hospital capacity and staffing levels are strained. Last week our health district had more cases in one week than all of March and April combined. This means we may not be able to transfer patients as easily or have staff sent to help. Because of rapidly rising COVID-related visits, there is growing concern by healthcare providers about our capacity to care for trauma and other non-COVID illness.

We have tools to fight COVID collectively. We need to deploy them more vigorously and take additional ones from the toolbox. Please also know that your leaders, and those to whom you look to take care of you, are working long and hard to take care of you and to procure additional resources where needed. But we need your help. Help us help you.

Here’s what we are doing and ask you to do as well:

  • Wear a mask in public, wash hands frequently and watch your distance.  
  • Limit interactions with those outside your household. Tighten your social circle and limit indoor gatherings to less than 10. Better yet, limit indoor gatherings to those in your household.
  • We all want to support our local restaurants and shops, so consider take-out versus indoor dining and buying local versus buying online or traveling to other areas to shop.
  • Minimize travel and plan your shopping and errands to minimize interactions.

Take care:

  • Of yourself by exercising, getting enough sleep, eating right and staying hydrated. Find ways to unplug and reduce stress.
  • Of each other. Be kind and gracious. Thank each other for wearing a mask and smile, even when wearing a mask. It can affect your emotion and may be seen in your eyes. Check in with family, friends and neighbors.

We received national attention for our outbreak in the spring. It’s not the kind of attention we want. Let’s be known for all the things we love about this place.


This guest opinion was submitted on behalf of St. Luke’s Wood River Emergency Physicians Drs. Terry Ahern, Brock Bemis, Terry O’Connor, Malie Kopplin, Deb Robertson, Jim Torres, Keith Sivertson and Brent Russell, as well as other St. Luke’s Wood River medical staff. The Adaptive Planning Committee consists of Blaine County, Blaine County School District, Hunger Coalition, St. Luke’s Wood River medical staff, South Central Public Health District and Visit Sun Valley.

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