IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — This article was written by Eric Grossarth with East Idaho News.
At least 30 people who attended a religious revival in Idaho Falls have been diagnosed with or are suspected to have COVID-19.
The Idaho Falls Potter’s House Christian Center on Lomax Street held a multi-day revival near the end of May. In the days following the event, people who attended began showing novel coronavirus symptoms. They were tested, and the positive cases were reported to Eastern Idaho Public Health and the Southeastern Idaho Public Health District.
Eastern Idaho Public Health spokeswoman Mimi Taylor said health officials are speaking with at least 41 people from 12 households who attended the revival. Within that health district, 11 people were found to have COVID-19. At least 6 other cases are considered probable.
An additional 13 people from Bannock and Bingham Counties who attended the event tested positive for the virus, Southeastern Idaho Public Health Community Health Director Tracy McCulloch told EastIdahoNews.com.
A case is indicated as probable if a person has not been tested, or testing is pending, and they have all the symptoms of COVID-19, have come into direct contact with an infected individual, and developed symptoms within the expected timeframe.
Those who got the virus said nobody wore masks, and it remains unclear if any social distancing measures were followed, McCulloch said.
“They (those at the revival) said there was a female there that was coughing a lot,” McCulloch said.
Taylor said health officials are still monitoring those who attended the event, and numbers could change. She also emphasized that large gatherings outside the home can lead to more cases, and social distancing is still encouraged.
“It can happen to anyone,” Taylor said.
Eastern Idaho has seen a spike in cases since last Wednesday when there were 109 cases. As of Tuesday afternoon, eastern Idaho has had 167 confirmed or probable cases, according to the EIPh and SIPH. Of that number, 65 individuals are sick and being monitored, and 102 individuals are presumed to have recovered. One person has died in eastern Idaho.
Religious gatherings were permitted to resume May 1 as part of Gov. Brad Little’s plan to reopen the state after issuing a statewide stay-home order in March. The plan advised houses of worship to practice physical distancing and sanitation measures.
Statewide, about 78% of the 2,933 documented cases in Idaho have recovered, according to IDHW data.
EIPH recommends people follow COVID-19 risk reduction strategies:
- Staying home if sick.
- Practicing self-distancing (maintaining at least 6 feet between individuals).
- Wearing a fabric face covering or mask when in public settings where other social
distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
- Covering your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or our sleeve.
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer.
- Limiting close contact with people who are sick.
Since restrictions on gatherings have loosened, EIPH says most COVID-19 cases are linked to gatherings where people attended while ill and social distancing was not followed.
“We understand that social connections are vitally important to people, but we also want people to take precautions when interacting with others to minimize the opportunities for COVID-19 to be spread,” EIPH Director Geri Rackow said in a news release.
During the state shutdown, most discovered cases stayed within households, Rackow told EastIdahoNews.com.
“We expected we would start to see more cases as things open up,” Rackow said.
Health officials say to contact them if someones been exposed to COVID-19 or exposure has occurred at your business, organization, event, etc. EIPH can be reached at its COVID-19 hotline at (208) 522-0310. SIPH’s hotline is reached at (208) 234-5875.