Central District Health has issued a new public health advisory for four counties, with the possibility to make it an order if the COVID-19 situation does not reverse.
The advisory is in effect for Ada, Boise, Elmore and Valley counties and states residents are strongly encouraged to:
- Wear a face covering at all times when around someone who is not a member of the same household and when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
- Work from home
- Minimize non-essential travel
- Suspend visits to congregate living facilities
- Avoid social gatherings, including gatherings with family members from outside the household
- Anyone over the age of 65, smokes or has a health condition that puts them at risk should avoid close contact with others outside their household
The advisory recommends for outings, activities and places of business:
- Businesses should implement a delivery/curb-side service
- Places of worship implement virtual services
- Discontinue youth and adult sports or activities where physical distancing is not possible
- Discontinue school extracurricular activities where physical distancing cannot be maintained, or where the activity requires increased breathing, such as choir and band
- Bars, restaurants, breweries/taprooms/wineries/distilleries should be carryout only and close at 10 p.m.
- Gyms and other fitness or group exercise facilities limit capacity to no more than 50%
The advisory will remain in effect until there is a sustained two-week decline in cases within the district as well as a two-week rate of less than 30 cases per every 100,000 residents per day. Kimberly Link, communicable disease control manager for CDH, said Ada County currently has 73 cases for 100,000 residents daily.
The advisory notes if any of the three health systems within the district — St. Luke's, Saint Alphonsus and the Boise VA Medical Center — implement "crisis standards of care," which is authorized by the state, the advisory will become an order.
Link said coronavirus-related hospitalizations in Ada County have doubled in the past two weeks, and will continue to increase for several weeks after case numbers start declining.
"The trajectory that we are on is not sustainable in the long-term," Link said.
While testing numbers are up, so is positivity rate, Link said, which shows cases are not increasing due to increased testing.
"We have much more illness out in the community than our case numbers are showing us," she said.
CDH Director Russ Duke said the district went with a public health advisory, over a public health order, to find a balance between communities who oppose, adding people said they want to be told what they should do and not what they have to do.
On Tuesday alone, the state reported 1,639 confirmed and probable cases, with the most deaths in a single day at 31 across the state.
Now, hospitals are warning there could be a worst-case scenario within two months if the community doesn't start taking precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19.
"We're expected to double the number of hospitalized COVID patients by Christmas, and triple within the next two months," said Dr. Steven Nemerson, the Chief Clinical Officer of Saint Alphonsus Health System.