County stays at COVID-19 red alert level

Steve Lyon

Washington County will stay at red alert level for a third week based on an increase in COVID-19 cases and other factors, officials with Southwest District Health said.
 The Weiser Signal American asked the public health agency about specific reasons why the county was bumped up to the red alert level and has remained there.
 SWDH officials responded that the county has experienced a moderately high COVID-19 incidence rate of 3.093 daily cases per 10,000 people as of last week.
 According to information on the SWDH website, the red alert level represents at least five daily new cases per 10,000 people.
 Epidemiologists are also concerned about cluster outbreaks at long-term care facilities, congregate living facilities and non-essential gatherings. There was still evidence of sustained community spread, SWDH officials said in an email.
 The confirmed number of coronavirus cases in Washington County as of Monday night was 242, with another 15 probable cases.
 Within the Southwest District Health, Canyon County has seen cases skyrocket with 6,472. Washington County is behind Payette (503) and Owyhee (264) counties in case numbers.
 SWDH can take action and implement measures to control the spread of COVID-19. At this time, Southwest District Health’s board members do not support mandating face coverings. The board does recommend the use of face coverings when physical distancing cannot be maintained between non-household members to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.
 Southwest District Health’s Board of Health members do not support implementing rollbacks to previous stages of the COVID-19 reopening stages.
 Businesses across the district have been responsive to SWDH’s current recommendations by adopting practices that allow for physical distancing and requiring masks for their staff and patrons.
 Out of six counties that made up the public health district, four are at the red alert level and two are at lower levels.
 Gem County was recently downgraded to orange. Adams County has been at the lowest level, which is gray. Washington, Payette, Owyhee and Canyon counties are at the red alert level.
 The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reports a weekly summary every Friday on coronavirus cases in long-term care facilities in the state.
 In the Aug. 21 report, there were 147 outbreaks with 1,882 total cases in Idaho. There have been 172 COVID-19-related deaths associated with 49 facilities across the state.
 In Washington County, the IDHW reported 22 confirmed cases at two assisted living centers in Weiser on Friday. In addition, there was one case reported at a third assisted care facility in Weiser, but that outbreak has been resolved, the IDHW said.

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