Thank you. You helped us and your community by staying home and abiding by the shelter-in-place and it made a difference. You saw the significant number of COVID cases in our community and you helped bend the curve. We became the county with the largest per-capita incidence rate of COVID in the U.S., larger than New York City. The numbers do not tell the whole story as it doesn’t convey how sick our family, friends and neighbors became. We even lost souls that were dear to so many.

As you see the increase in new cases become smaller, we want to warn everyone that COVID isn’t going away. The decline in numbers will not be as steep as the increase. And once again, it can be up to you, more than us, to determine what happens next. We all want to get back to business as usual, socializing and reviving our economy, but doing so too quickly can have dire consequences for the health of our people and our economy.

We are a resilient community; we have adapted before, and we can do it again. Abiding by social distancing practices, wearing masks in public and good hygiene will help us prevent another surge. Yes, we will be living with COVID for a long time. Keeping the waves of COVID cases from being too significant can help us conserve medical resources, help us manage our volumes and help us buy time for an effective treatment and a vaccine to be developed. It also helps us sustainably revive our economy. We ask visitors to not swarm us. We miss them but we may not be able to manage a seasonal influx doubling or tripling our population and potentially bringing another spike.

We believe that increased testing and contact tracing will play a critical role going forward. It will help us study patterns and act quickly to treat and manage COVID. It is also important to recognize that antibody testing is a picture at a point in time and that presence of antibodies does not necessarily equate to immunity. We do not know how long COVID antibodies protect us or how long you are infectious. Testing is rapidly evolving and improving, so stay tuned for more in the coming weeks. Regardless, testing will not be a panacea; we will need to couple it with smart decisions that involve adapting our social behaviors and thinking. We implore you to be diligent in practicing social distancing, wearing masks and taking good infection-prevention measures. We already see evidence of higher traffic and fewer people abiding by the stay-at-home orders and adhering to measures that will help flatten the curve and keep it that way. Wash your hands, stay home if you feel sick, frequently clean surfaces and sneeze and cough into your sleeve. Exercise, eat healthy and get enough sleep to help boost your immunity.

Through it all, we are here for you. We are grateful to our emergency room partners in Twin Falls and Boise that helped support our operations when a number of us were impacted. Our commitment to do our best to care for you is unwavering, 24/7, 365 days a year. Providing exceptional care in a manner safe to you and our staff is our mandate. We will continue to partner with government officials, agencies and our amazing nonprofits in the valley to keep you informed and healthy. You continue to support us by howling for us and through your actions. We are so touched by how you express your appreciation of the frontline workers in this pandemic along with your compassion for everyone in our community. You do make a difference.

St. Luke’s Wood River emergency physicians: Drs. Terry O’Conner, Malie Kopplin, Deb Robertson, Jim Torres, Brock Bemis, Keith Sivertson, Terry Ahern and Brent Russell.

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