Friday, October 23, 2020
Idaho Stays in Stage Four, New Rules at Redfish Lake
The Sun Valley Community School’s fourth grade class has been meeting outside in response to the COVID pandemic. Here, they’re seen doing a read-a-loud along Trail Creek.
Saturday, September 5, 2020




It came as no surprise.

Blaine County reported no new cases for the fourth day in a row so stays at 606 total. We have not seen that since mid-June, said Paul Ries: “We are actually, once again, just starting to flatten the curve.”

Idaho will remain in Stage 4 of its reopening plan for at least two more weeks. This is the sixth time the state has remained in Stage 4 since it entered that stage on June 13.

The main sticking point is hospitalization numbers. They’re not where they need to be as Idaho heads into flu season when hundreds of Idahoans seek hospital care for the flu.

The number of new cases of coronavirus is declining, as is the positivity rates for COVID tests, said Christine Hahn, the state’s epidemiologist. But the positivity rate—the number of positive tests among those being tested for COVID—is 8.2 percent, which is still nowhere near the 5 percent or under needed for states or communities to breathe a little easier.

In contrast, Maine, Vermont, Connecticut and New York have positivity rates below 1 percent.

Idaho reported 269 new cases of coronavirus on Friday for 33,196 total. The state tallied 10 additional COVID-related deaths for 382 total.

Gov Brad Little cautioned during a press conference on Thursday that it’s likely that the number of COVID cases will go up this fall as colder temperatures drive people indoors. A half-million Idahoans, or a third of the state’s population, have underlying health conditions and must be protected, he added.

Little urged Idahoans to take precautions by getting a flu shot, wearing a mask, washing their hands, staying home, practicing physical distancing and avoiding large gatherings, especially indoors.

The rate of new coronavirus cases, which were as high as 569 on July 19, have dropped to 299 per day over the past seven days. But that’s still far above June 1 when they were 39.

Hospitalizations, however, are now 16.5 per day versus 14.4 per day during the previous two-week period.


Headed to Redfish Lake? Or the hot springs at Sunbeam? Mask up.

Custer County is now mandating masks to stop the spread of coronavirus. Those who fail to oblige face a possible fine of up to $300 and six months in jail.


 After weeks of being Oregon’s hotspot, Malheur County is pushing back. Health leaders of county on the Idaho-Oregon border complain that Idaho has not comprehensively followed public health recommendations statewide and that Canyon, Payette and Washington counties, which border Malheur, are ignoring the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control, White House and public health departments.

For example, Oregon has a statewide mask mandate while Idaho does not. The Payette County Fair and Rodeo entertained packed crowds that did not wear masks or distance, Sarah Poe, director of the Malheur County Health Department, told KTVB.

Idahoans from hotspots in Canyon and other counties travel to Ontario to shop since the state has no sales tax. Marijuana is also legal there.

Oregon has had just over 26,000 cases of coronavirus compared with Idaho has had more than 32,000 cases of COVID compared with Oregon’s 26,000, even though Idaho has only 40 percent of Oregon’s population.


 Central District Health in Boise has voted to approve a petition from 10 Boise bar owners to reopen their businesses once schools in Ada County are moved to the yellow category. Yellow means there’s only moderate spread of coronavirus in the community. Right now, the county is red, meaning there’s extensive spread.

But bar owners will be required to have extensive safety measure for employees and customers and sanitation of facilities—something many did not exercise as Idaho began to reopen. The initial clusters in early June were traced to bars.

Meanwhile, Boise will begin a phased reopening of City Hall, Idaho Ice World and other facilities beginning Sept. 8 as the COVID situation improves. But facilities will be accessed by appointment only and with a lot of stringent measures in place.


College of Southern Idaho has seen enrollment increase by 5 percent as it offers a mix of in-person, hybrid and online options. The number of credits being taken online has increased 40 percent.

A third of the students at The College of Western Idaho have elected to take in-person classes this fall with the rest taking online-only or a mix of in-person and online. The college is keeping classes small and it has foggers to sanitize a classroom on a moment’s notice.


Burger King has unveiled the restaurant of the future, according to CNN Business. And the future has triple drive throughs, burger pickup lockers and takeout counters. The chain plans to build prototypes in Miami, Latin America and the Caribbean next year and incorporate some of the elements into its existing 18,800 restaurants over time.

Burger King had been working on these designs for a few years; COVID accelerated things.


Old Navy is paying up to 50,000 employees a day’s wages to volunteer at polling places on Nov. 3. Coca Cola, meanwhile, has pledged Election Day off for its employees, as has Twitter in hopes that workers will take that time to vote.


Researchers now believe that women mount faster, stronger immune responses to the coronavirus, possibly because their bodies are rigged to fight pathogens that threaten unborn or newborn children. Women produce more so-called T cells, which can kill virus-infected cells and stop the infection’s spread.

That means men, particularly those over age 60, may need to depend more on vaccines to protect against the infection, Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist at Yale University told the New York Times. It also means that a single shot of a vaccine might be sufficient in young individuals, while older men might need three shots, said an immunologist at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf.


 So far, there have been about 300 cases and one death tied to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally held recently in South Dakota. Nearly 500,000 vehicles were counted entering the city of 7,000 over the 10-day rally.



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