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Blaine County seeing the highest vaccination rates statewide, but high number of visitors still hurting the area

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Posted at 6:25 PM, Aug 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-27 16:56:46-04

MAGIC VALLEY — At the beginning of the pandemic, Blaine County was considered a hot spot for COVID-19 after being hit hard by the virus.

Today the county accounts for the highest rate of vaccinations throughout the Gem State.

“Blaine County is a unique situation. Their residents have been so fantastic about getting the opportunity and taking the opportunity to be vaccinated," Brianna bodily with the South Central Public Health District said.

72% of Blaine County's population is currently vaccinated. The rate is much higher than the rest of the counties throughout the state. Most of the rest of the counties throughout the state average between 30 to 40% vaccinated.

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“There have been a couple of things at play here, but the number one thing is that Blaine county simply has so many residents that are willing to work with public health," Bodily said.

Blaine County's economy has relied on tourism throughout the years, and health officials say the high amount of tourists in the area is what contributed to the high amount of cases.

And now the high amount of tourists is hurting the area again.

“Our local hospitals tell us they are seeing many visitors to the area admitted with COVID-19 who aren't vaccinated. The county has a high rate of immunization, but circulating disease still puts our residents at risk. When we talk to local hospitals up there, we still see the same kind of numbers we see everywhere else," Bodily said.

With summer ending, health officials are hopeful the number of COVID-19 cases will go down once the amount of tourists visiting the area also lowers.

“So what we are hoping is once we get that gap after labor day once fewer people start to go visit the area, that’s when we are expecting to see a much slower rate of disease in their community. Of course, our concern is when ski season starts mid-winter we are going to see an increase again, and once again, those residents will be facing more risks," Bodily said.