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Central District Health opts to table order, will revise and come back Tuesday

Families in Ada, Boise, Elmore and Valley counties should not expect their schools to be classified in the lowest level of coronavirus risk at any point during the 2020-21 school year, Central District Health officials announced.
Posted at 7:10 PM, Dec 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-04 21:20:48-05

Central District Health opted to table the public health order until Dec. 8 in order to make changes.

CDH Director Russ Duke said he wants to take more time to revise after receiving public comments. Dr. Ted Epperly agreed and said he wants "to get it as right as we can."

Epperly urged the public to take accountability in individual actions.

"I just want the public to understand — we have a hurricane coming. All the warning symptoms and signs are there. We just heard tonight that the hospitals are at the water-point of just having their head barely above water. It does not and will not take much to tip them over," Epperly said. "This has gone well past if it's going to happen, it's when it's going to happen."

The discussed draft of the order released states:

  • Gatherings larger than 10 people are prohibited
  • Everyone in all four counties is required to wear face coverings indoors and outdoors where social distancing cannot be maintained
  • Individuals should work from home wherever possible
  • Visits to long-term care facilities are prohibited
  • Businesses should implement curbside or delivery services where possible
  • Organized youth and adults sports that cannot social distance are not allowed
  • Restaurants must distance tables and allow groups no larger than 10 people, among other requirements
  • Gyms and other fitness facilities cannot have more than 50% capacity and maintain social distancing

At Tuesdays board meeting, most board members agreed they did not want to wait until the state enacted crisis standards of care to change the advisory to a public health order, as the original advisory stated.

While crisis standards of care have not been officially enacted, area hospital systems agree: it's not far away.

"I believe it's more probable than not that in the next two to four weeks we will find ourselves at that (crisis standards of care) point, unfortunately," St. Luke's Chief Medical Officer James Souza. "I'd like to make a plea, it feels like all I do is beg, a plea that's based on what we've learned in healthcare. If anyone listens to what I've just described, you know that if you walk into our facilities it will feel like a buzzing hive. And it does."

Souza said the hospital was so full this week it was close to having to divert patients for the first time ever, but were able to avoid it due to unexpected deaths that freed up bed space.

Saint Alphonsus Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Steven Nemerson said staff is feeling the impacts, both in contracting COVID-19 themselves and the emotional and mental toll, which is making care even more challenging.

"We are beyond the point where we are able to deliver normal standards of medical care, even though we still have some marginal capacity left," Nemerson said.

Nemerson said several months back, coronavirus testing positivity rate hovered around 7%, slightly above the 5% mark where a pandemic is considered under control. Today the positivity rate sits between 25-30%, Nemerson said.

"I don't know what we call (a pandemic) it when it's greater than 25%," Nemerson said.

More:

Potential CDH order clarifies face covering requirement, would ban some sports

Central District Health: It's time to move public health advisory to an order

The meeting commenced after several people attempted to force their way into the meeting, yelling at CDH board members, Boise police say.

Watch the full meeting here.