Friday, May 14, 2021
Blaine County’s COVID Risk Remains High as Officials Prepare to Vaccine More
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A skier wears a face mask as he rides the chairlift at Sun Valley Resort. Idahoans are urged to continue to take precautions as vaccines continue to ramp up.
   
Friday, March 5, 2021
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

GRAPH BY PAUL RIES

Are you currently eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine?

St. Luke’s Wood River officials are urging you to get your shot before March 15 when 134,000 essential workers become eligible for the vaccine.

 
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Idaho reported 299 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday for a total of 172,587. Five more Idahoans have died of COVID in the past two days for a total of 1,876. Sadly, a 17th Blaine county resident has died of COVID. The county has gained 11 new cases in the past two days for a total of 2,184.
 

Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen said health districts may open eligibility to the next group before March 15 if their situation permits. But South Central District Health spokesperson Brianna Bodily says this district still has thousands of people over 65 waiting for their dose.

Those under the state’s group 2.3 will become eligible on March 15. They include grocery, convenience store workers; food processing and agriculture workers; U.S. Postal Service, public transit and manufacturing employees; flight crews, Idaho National Guard, homeless shelter residents, and essential gas, electric, water and telecommunications utility workers who work indoors.

It does not include adult family members who provide in-home personal care for adults 65 or older or for other adults or children with high-risk medical conditions. Nor does it include restaurant workers. And, surprisingly, residents of transitional housing like the Advocates and Men’s Second Chance Living in Hailey do not qualify under homeless.

(See below to see who is currently eligible).

St. Luke’s is working on a system that will enable hospital staff to reach out to people who have indicated they want vaccines, rather than have them constantly have to look for an appointment, says Joy Prudek, public relations manager for St. Luke’s Wood River.

To date 264,452 Idahoans have received at least one dose of vaccine. That includes 5,877 Blaine County residents.

BLAINE COUNTY’S RISK REMAINS HIGH

Blaine County’s average new case rate is dropping but the risk for spreading COVID remains high, according to Harvard Global Health Institute metrics.

A 17th Blaine County resident has died of COVID. She was a female in her 90s. She was not hospitalized but had underlying health conditions and a long-term care affiliation.

The county averaged 15.5 new cases per 100,000 hypothetical residents between Feb. 21 and 27. That’s down from an average of 19.9 new cases per 100,000 the week before.

But its test positivity rate nearly doubled this past week from 3.93 percent to 6 percent. That puts it above the 5 percent level that health officials strive for.

Residents are being urged to exercise caution as 19 COVID virus variants have now been detected in Idaho—a dozen of them the California variants.

Six people between the ages of 40 and 49 tested positive between Feb. 21 and 27. Five people between 18 and 29 tested positive.

There were three positives each in those 70 and older, between 30 and 39 and between 14 and 17. There were two each in the 60- to 69-year-old category and those between 11 and 13. One person aged 50 to 59 tested positive while there were no positive cases among those 10 and younger.

St. Luke’s Wood River and other regional health care facilities have plenty of wiggle room to take care of COVID and non-COVID patients at this ponit. About 139 patients are currently hospitalized with COVID statewide—32 of those in ICUs. That leaves 165 ICU beds available. But the South Central Public Health District is investigating an active outbreak at a long-term care facility in the Wood River Valley, as well as a cluster at a local school.

WHO’S ELIGIBLE FOR A VACCINE AND WHO’S COMING UP

The state hopes to offer vaccines for other essential workers and individuals 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions in late April. It hopes to offer them to the general public in May.

Those currently eligible for vaccinations are a quarter million Idahoans who are 65 and older. Also,  those who work for blood centers, child welfare, as clergy in hospital settings, community food, housing and relief services; coroners, medical examiners, mortuary and funeral services personnel; correctional and detention facility staff; dentists, hygienists and dental assistants; emergency medical services, first responders; homecare providers for adults 65 and older; hospital staff and other medical workers; Idaho Fish and Game enforcement officers, ASL and other language interpreters and many janitorial workers, residents and staff of long-term care facilities, optometrists, substance abuse counselors and suicide prevention hotline workers, pharmacists, pre-K-12 school staff and teachers, daycare workers, psychiatric residential treatment facility staff, radiation therapists, and staff of residential schools providing behavioral health treatment.

 

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