Tuesday, May 26, 2020
‘Don’t Anybody Ever Shake Hands Again’ Says Coronavirus Spokesman
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Fire chiefs and doctors say it’s too soon to stop following the stay-at-home guidelines.
 
Friday, April 10, 2020
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

St. Luke’s Health System is requiring a universal masking policy at all its hospital and clinics.

All St. Luke’s staff and providers are now required to wear fluid-resistant procedure masks in patient-care areas and common areas to protect both health care providers and patients.

The masks are not the N95 masks used by those directly treating those with COVID-19 disease. They are comfortable 3M masks held on with an earloop that reduce exposure to blood and body fluids.

 
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All St. Luke’s employees are now wearing protective masks like this.
 

“Donning procedure masks while in patient-care areas reduces the risk of asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic spread of the virus, both from patients to employees and from an employee to a patient,” said St. Luke’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jim Souza.

Staff and providers will wear the masks in hospitals, clinics, diagnostic areas like labs and radiology and in home-care environments. The directive applies to non-clinical staff, as well, including personnel in food and nutrition, environmental services, building services and patient access specialists.

The new policy bolsters previous steps St. Luke’s has taken to protect staff patients and visitors. Visitors have been limited. Those entering hospitals must use specific doors and are screened verbally or with thermal temperature scanners.

Non-urgent and non-emergent operative and invasive procedures have been paused indefinitely to reduce the number of people entering the hospital sites. And St. Luke’s has moved the outpatient pharmacy services and providing drop-off and pickup services in parking lots.

 
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Uh-oh," says Chart Maker Paul Ries. "Eighteen new cases reported for Blaine County--the most since April 3 when we had 54."
 

Environmental services teams are also cleaning and disinfecting all areas of the facility.

DON’T STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING

Members of Blaine County’s Incident Management Team set up to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic caution that now is not the time to let up on social distancing, staying home and wearing masks.

Wood River Fire Chief Ron Bateman said he doesn’t believe that Blaine County’s vulnerability, which has made it the coronavirus capital of the United States in the number of per capita cases, is wholly in the rear review mirror yet.

“I suspect that people are growing weary of doing what we’ve asked them to do—social distancing, staying at home, wearing a mask. But we need them, the community needs them, to do these things just a little bit longer,” he said.

Dr. Terry O’Connor, Blaine County and Sawtooth Regional EMS director concurred.

“We need our residents to keep doing what they’ve been doing. And, maybe, do it even better,” he said. “There are indications that the measure have been working, but it’s still early.”

Josh Jensen, said that his public health department’s investigative team is gathering data as quickly as possible, but it takes time to determine whether the efforts the community has made are working.

“People want to go back to their regular lives, and we want them to. But the timing has to be right or this disease will continue to spread,” he said.

DANG! CONFIRMED COVID CASES CLIMB AGAIN

After a day off, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Blaine County climbed by 18 to 446 on Thursday. Ada County now has the most cases with 476.

Twenty-four Idahoans have died of COVID-19, the latest involving residents of Jerome, Canyon and Nez Perce counties. Idaho’s mortality rate has climbed to 1.81 percent.

The state has 1,354 confirmed cases, up from 1,252 the day before.

HOSPITAL GROCERIES

Saint Alphonsus hospitals have opened mini-grocery stores for employees where they can buy milk, eggs, flour, chicken, toilet paper and other necessities without risk of exposure in public supermarkets.

St. Luke's is doing the same with a grocery2go program in Boise and Twin Falls. And they're looking at take-and-bake options like lasagna. An option for St. Luke's Wood River is in the works.

FREE BIG MACS FOR HEALTH CARE WORKERS

The Kyle family, which owns McDonald’s in Hailey, Twin Falls, Jerome, Buhl, Gooding and Mountain Home, is offering first responders and health care workers with ID a free meal through April 30.

CLOSING DOWN STEELHEAD?

Custer County Commissioner Wayne Butts has asked Gov. Brad Little to close down the steelhead season to keep steelhead fishermen from coming to Stanley and Challis. Butts said the county has noticed an influx of visitors from nearly two dozen different counties.

Custer County has had two cases of COVID-19.

The governor’s office has declined to close steelhead season. But, noticed one spokesperson, the stay-at-home order now in place does not allow people to drive 200 miles to go fishing.

IN OTHER NEWS:

Coronavirus is now the leading cause of death in the United States, killing more people per day than cancer or heart disease.

  • A study published Wednesday in “Science” reports that domestic cats can become infected with SARS-CoV-2. They contract the virus through the air and it settles in their nasal passages, trachea and lungs.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued new guidelines to get essential workers who have been exposed to the coronavirus back to work quicker. Under the old guidelines, workers were told to stay at home for two weeks if they were exposed to someone who had tested positive. Now they may go back to work as long as they are asymptomatic, take their temperature before going to work, wear a face mask and practice social distancing.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has doubled the fines for social distancing violations from $500 to $1,000. Police in New York have had violators threaten to spit or cough on them when asked to move. And there have been a few hate crimes involving people spitting on others in the Big Apple.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s infectious disease expert, has said the pandemic will demand permanent changes in people’s behavior until a vaccine is developed. That includes constant hand washing, not going to school or work when sick and no hand shaking.

    “Don’t anybody ever shake hands again,” he said.

  • The New York Times reported Thursday that geneticists have determined that the coronavirus was brought to New York mainly by travelers coming home from Europe, rather than Asia. They also determined that aggressive testing might have detected a previously hidden spread of the virus that was missed early on.
  • The Kansas legislature has overturned the governor’s order restricting attendance to 10 people during church services and funerals.
  • The peak number of deaths in one day in the United States is projected to happen Sunday with a projected 2,212 deaths, says the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. That’s assuming social distancing measures continue to be practiced.

    That’s a few days earlier than an earlier projection of April 16, which forecast deaths above 3,000.

  • Some doctors around the world are declining to put some patients on ventilators, according to the Associated Press. They fear the process of intubating the patients may be harming some patients by igniting a harmful immune system reaction. It’s all speculation at this point--doctors are trying to figure out how to deal with the coronavirus as they go.
  • Dr. Tony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on CBS This Morning that Americans can start planning summer vacations, if the country continues aggressive mitigation efforts now and figures out a way to modify them down the road. But the country will have to have aggressive testing to identify, isolate and trace contacts when infections start to crop up again.
  • At least 74 people in South Korea who had recovered from COVID-19 have tested positive a second time. Some didn’t show any symptoms prior to the test. Others were exhibiting respiratory symptoms. None so far have seen their illness worsen to serious conditions.

    Some Japanese and Chinese people also appear to have been re-infected.

    Normally, patients produce antibodies within seven to 10 days after the onset of a virus that give them immunity to that virus for months or even years. Researchers don’t know if that will be the case with COVID-19.

    Vineet Menachery, a virologist at the University of Texas, told TIME that he would expect that COVID-19 antibodies will remain in a person’s system for two to three years, if it follows the pattern of other coronaviruses. But it’s too early to know. The degree of immunity could also differ from person to person with younger, healthier people generating a more robust response.

  • The number of Americans getting on airplanes has dropped by 95 percent from a year ago. The last time this few Americans flew was in 1954.

 

 

 

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