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One health District urges calm amid more COVID-19 variants, pauses J&J Vaccine

Posted at 5:49 PM, Apr 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-15 20:56:20-04

TWIN FALLS — The South Central Public Health District released a statement Tuesday confirming it received confirmation of COVID-19 variant cases in Twin Falls County.

Four of the cases were of the UK variant, and two were the California variant.

The arrival of these variants in Twin Falls County comes after Blaine County saw confirmed variant cases just a week ago. Now that it's spreading, health officials are concerned.

“It may infect more people before the carrier knows that they are sick," South Central Public Health District spokesperson Brianna Bodily said. "Or it will infect more people with a carrier that isn’t concerned about COVID-19."

Despite the concern and the potential for an increase in variant cases, the health district is trying to remain as calm as possible and will not take any drastic measures, such as requesting the health board to instate a mask mandate.

“Our hospitals aren’t overwhelmed. Our residents who are at the highest risk have had the opportunity to be vaccinated. To choose yes or no, on that added protection. And we haven't seen a huge increase in cases in our region like we did when we were requesting those mask mandates," said Bodily.

To limit exposure and spread of the variants, the health district encourages people to take the necessary precautions. This includes people receiving their vaccine and even though the district has paused administering Johnson & Johnson vaccines, it will not greatly impact their vaccine availability.

“This doesn’t affect our operations very much at all," Bodily said. "The biggest impact really is on those clinics that we were providing to people in rural communities, people who speak Spanish. You know, residents who have difficulty getting to that second appointment, that’s where the big impact is going to be."

Rural communities will be impacted the most since the Johnson & Johnson vaccines were being used for people who had difficulty getting to more than one appointment.

Now, the district is focusing its efforts on being able to help those other communities and populations as best they can.

“Now what we’re going to have to do is postpone some of the other clinics that we wanted to plan, and instead plan second dose clinics to those same communities. And just do everything we can to educate these residents that it’s really important that they come back for that second dose so that they can be fully immunized," said Bodily.