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South Central Public Health District places all eight counties at critical risk level

Posted at 5:14 PM, Jan 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-28 19:16:50-05

TWIN FALLS, Idaho — The South Central Public Health District's most recent COVID-19 risk level assessment has placed all eight counties in the Magic Valley at the critical risk level. Since there is no indication of the spread slowing down, health officials have some concerns.

The reason behind each county being at the critical level is due to increasing COVID-19 case numbers, the impact it's having on local hospitals, and especially, high positivity rates.

“It’s a huge indicator that there is a lot of disease spreading around the community right now. No county right now has a positivity rate lower than 30%," said Brianna Bodily, spokesperson for South Central Public Health District. "Most of our counties are above 35%; several are above 40%.”

The health district attributes the increasing case counts to the virus spreading in multiple ways, but there is one trend officials are continuing to see.

“For the most part, what we continue to see in our other counties, largely, is that one or two people in that family unit will get sick because of their particular, high-risk job or because they’re not taking enough precautions," said Bodily. "Then they come home and spread it to the rest of the family.”

Since there is still a good portion of winter left, forcing people to be indoors, the main concern for health officials is the impact it could have on hospitals if this surge continues.

“Our goal throughout the pandemic is to maintain hospital capacity and be able to take care of all the patients that need care," said Dr. Joshua Kern, the Chief Medical Director for St. Luke's Magic Valley. "That’s what got stretched to the worst during the Delta surge, was our ability to care for any patients and do surgeries that were really needed.”

St. Luke's Magic Valley currently has roughly 180 patients overall with 60 of them being COVID-19 patients.

“That still is a lot less than when we had, something like 120, at the high watermark of COVID patients during the Delta surge," said Dr. Kern "So, we are doing better, but the volumes are still very high.”

To try and help flatten the curve, health officials are encouraging people to practice standard safety protocols like social distancing. They also encourage people to get vaccinated and boosted.

“If you haven't gotten your booster, your third shot in the vaccine series, it’s a good time to get it," said Dr. Kern. "It does help prevent hospitalization.”