Coronavirus: Idaho State equipment to speed up testing in SE Idaho; Emmett High closed for a day

Coronavirus-confirmed healthcare workers can return to work without being testing negative
Posted at 1:14 PM, Sep 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-24 15:14:50-04

This article was originally published by Jacob Scholl and Ruth Brown.

New equipment on its way to Idaho State University will speed up Southeast Idaho’s COVID-19 testing capacity.

Around 500 tests could be processed per day at the university, according to a news release from ISU.

As of now, tests are processed one at a time and can take 90 minutes to complete.

The instillation of the new equipment — purchased by the university and the Idaho Division of Public Health — would allow around 90 tests to be processed every 60-90 minutes.

The speed and output of the new equipment is expected to reduce turnaround times for tests, since some samples will not need to be sent out of state. The university predicts most results could be returned to patients within 24 hours.

With the instillation of the new equipment, SE Idaho will have a regional hub for quick coronavirus testing.

The equipment will be housed at a lab in Idaho Falls to analyze samples, according to the news release. After the machine has served its purpose, it will be transferred to the ISU campus in Pocatello to be used for student and faculty research.


Emmett High School students were told Thursday that all classes on Friday are canceled so classrooms and the school can be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, according to a district news release.

The closure comes after students were told there’s been one confirmed case and two probable cases identified among the student population this week.

Students and staff in direct contact with those confirmed and probable cases are being contacted by Southwest District Health officials regarding quarantine requirements.

This does not affect other Emmett School District schools.

Emmett Athletic Director Gavin Watson confirmed that the Huskies’ football team still plans to host Nampa on Friday.

“This is a good reminder for students, parents, staff and community members that the recommendations for staying home when sick, social distancing, masking and keeping hands clean are essential to keeping students in a face-to-face learning atmosphere,” Superintendent Craig Woods said in the news release.

Emmett High School hosted a pep rally last Friday ahead of its homecoming football game against Ridgevue High School. This photo was posted by the school district on it’s Facebook page, showing the children at the pep rally crowded together. Emmett High School will be closed Sept. 25, after some cases of coronavirus were reported and the school needs to be cleaned. Emmett School District Facebook page
During a meeting Wednesday, the Middleton School District’s Board of Trustees announced that a staff member had died from COVID-19. Board members did not detail who the staff member was or any further information.

“It’s a very sad situation for the Middleton School District and my heart breaks for the employee’s family, friends and co-workers,” Superintendent Kristin Beck said in a news release.

The deceased did not have contact with the students, according to the district.

The district also reported students and employees at Middleton High School needing to quarantine, as well as an elementary teacher who is quarantining and not expected to return to work soon.

Beck and other board members also discussed the tracking of coronavirus cases in schools. She said the district intentionally doesn’t keep those records, as they instead look at each case individually.

Its next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 12.


The Caldwell School District reported 10 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in response to a records request filed by the Idaho Statesman.

Four staffers and six students who have tested positive since Aug. 24. Caldwell has held only online classes since the school year began, but elementary students will return to class four days a week starting Monday.

Two games for the Borah High School boys soccer team were canceled this week after a student tested positive for COVID-19. The team has been quarantined, according to a Boise School District spokesperson.

Borah canceled games against Boise and Timberline high schools, which were supposed to take place Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.


A total of 252 new coronavirus cases were reported Wednesday by Idaho’s public health districts, as well as two deaths.

The two deaths were reported in Minidoka and Washington counties, bringing the death totals for each to eight and six, respectively. In total, 454 Idahoans have died due to the coronavirus, as the state’s fatality rate now sits at about 1.17%.

Ada and Canyon counties reported 31 and 23 new cases, respectively, bringing the totals for each to 11,454 and 7,513.

Eastern Idaho counties reported a bulk of Wednesday’s cases, as Bonneville County had the most, with 37. Just behind was Madison County, which added 32 cases.

Kootenai and Jefferson also reported double-digit case numbers, adding 24 and 10 cases, respectively.

As of Wednesday, 35,499 people in Idaho have tested positive for the coronavirus. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare added 138 new “probable” cases to its totals.

IDHW says 20,901 of those confirmed to have the virus are presumed to be recovered. The department indicated 294,063 coronavirus tests have been administered in Idaho since the pandemic began, with about 12.1% of tests returning positive.

Coronavirus cases have been found in all of Idaho’s 44 counties: Ada 11,454, Adams 27, Bannock 918, Bear Lake 46, Benewah 139, Bingham 848, Blaine 613, Boise 52, Bonner 289, Bonneville 2,092, Boundary 47, Butte 27, Camas 20, Canyon 7,513, Caribou 91, Cassia 589, Clark 27, Clearwater 37, Custer 48, Elmore 261, Franklin 99, Fremont 156, Gem 264, Gooding 229, Idaho 183, Jefferson 426, Jerome 644, Kootenai 2,516, Latah 331, Lemhi 64, Lewis 13, Lincoln 69, Madison 469, Minidoka 594, Nez Perce 390, Oneida 21, Owyhee 294, Payette 743, Power 220, Shoshone 213, Teton 137, Twin Falls 1,882, Valley 82, Washington 322.

Nearly all counties in Idaho have reported community spread, with the exceptions of Adams, Butte and Franklin counties.