South Central Public Health District urges public to continue taking COVID-19 precautions

Posted at 1:30 PM, May 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-20 15:31:14-04

TWIN FALLS, Idaho — As Idaho begins to reopen, the South Central Public Health District is reminding everyone to continue taking COVID-19 precautions.

We're now in phase 2 of the governor's plan, but the district says that's no reason to relax.

"If we jump into this reopening with abandon, we'll end up in another stay home order," said Brianna Bodily, the district's public information officer. "When you look at the case numbers across our district, Blaine County, of course, peaks the highest and the hardest, but they are on a very excellent trajectory downward. We're seeing better and better numbers from them every day. Twin Falls, however, is going up and down."

RELATED: As the state prepares to enter phase 2, Twin Falls County sees a spike in cases

“We know people are sick of wearing masks, of postponing get-togethers, and of limiting their visits to stores and other public places- but now is not the time to relax your caution,” said Logan Hudson, SCPHD Public Health Division Administrator. “It’s important that we ease back into normal activity. If we forget the protective habits we’ve worked to build over the last two months and go back to life as normal- we are asking for a surge in cases that may shut down our economy all over again.”

As Idaho News 6 has reported, cases in Twin Falls County have spiked this month. Between May 4th and 10th alone, cases in the county jumped by 68--the largest confirmed COVID-19 case jump in any seven day period in the county.

From May 11th to May 14th, the district saw an additional 28 cases in Twin Falls County. Several of those cases are residents or staff members in long-term care facilities within the county. As of May 14th, 61 residents of long-term care facilities had confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases.

“The residents in these facilities are some of our most at-risk. The buildings are locked down, but staff members still have to come and go. That means that while we continue to have cases in the county our friends, family, and neighbors who are we continue to have cases in the county our friends, family, and neighbors who are people if you don’t protect the community as a whole," Hudson said.

RELATED: Twin Falls County accounts for a third of the state's new COVID-19 cases

The district says a huge part of the problem is a lack of folks taking proper precautions. Many are neglecting to wear masks, and others aren't practicing social distancing.

"Each one of us who lives in Idaho and in our region has to realize that it is up to us to get rid of this virus, and we can do that by taking simple steps," said Bodily. "Those are very simple steps. Annoying? Yes, but very doable and they will go a long way in protecting you, your family, and your community from this virus."

The district urges residents to protect the community’s health and their own health by:

• Keeping six feet between themselves and people outside their household

• Washing their hands well and regularly, especially immediately afterreturning home
• Following the Governor’s Rebound Idaho program- which includes avoiding
gatherings with more than 10 people until stage 4
• Wearing a mask when they interact with people outside their home,
especially in public areas like grocery stores

South Central Public Health District is running two hotlines for information about COVID-19. One in English at (208) 737-1138, and one in Spanish, at (208) 737-5965. These hotlines are currently running from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

RELATED: South Central Public Health District confirms community spread of COVID-19 in Minidoka County

The district says if we don't take these precautions, the stakes are high.

"It's the same thing across the state--we have to continue to act with caution, or we'll end up seeing a huge surge in cases again and we'll be right back where we started," Bodily said.