TWIN FALLS, Idaho — As school districts plan to reopen and businesses continue to manage to navigate the pandemic, the South Central Public Health District is looking to lend a helping hand by releasing risk levels for counties in the region every other week.
The counties include Twin Falls, Blaine, Camas, Cassia, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, and Minidoka.
The levels at which these counties stand will be released for the first time this Thursday. The different levels will allow people to be guided appropriately and understand the threat of the virus in their region.
"This risk assessment that we've released helps our residents, our community leaders, our business owners, everybody within our community can get a better picture of what they're actually facing," explains Brianna Bodily, SCPHD's public information officer.
The four threat levels are minimal (green), moderate (yellow), high (orange), and critical (red). When asked where the counties currently stand in terms of risk, Bodily couldn't get into the specifics but said "the majority are in the green and yellow category, with a couple in orange."
When determining a county's level, the health district doesn't just base it off the number of cases but other types of data as well. South Central takes into consideration the number of people who are actually testing positive when getting tested. They examine hospital capacity and record numbers over seven days. The district uses that metric because a day by day analysis would be erratic and result in miscalculation of data.
Mitigating the spread of the disease is also a significant factor in the risk level plan in hopes of adequately steering residents in the correct direction to stay safe. Each threat level has a different set of safe hygiene practices that go beyond the basics of social distancing, wearing masks, and hand sanitizing.
"This is one more tool to put into their arsenal as they make decisions about daycare and whether or not they want their kids to go to school. About whether or not, as a business owner, they want people to wear masks in their building," said Bodily.
For more information about the details of risk levels and mitigation measures, residents can go to the SCPHD website.
The district also provides two hotlines, one in English 208-737-1138 and the other in Spanish 208-737-5965, so people can call in and either give or receive information and ask questions.