TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Twin Falls County is now the state leader in coronvairus-related deaths, according to state data.
As of May 27, state data shows the county now has 23 deaths, surpassing Ada County.
"The majority of our deaths across the district, including Twin Falls are within our long term care facilities because once COVID-19 gets within one of those facilities, it can have devastating results," said Brianna Bodily, Brianna Bodily, a spokeswoman for the South Central Public Health District. "They still have to let some people in or out, and that's their staff members. These people might take great precautions and still unintentionally bring that virus within their facility."
As Idaho News 6 has reported, the Magic Valley has been the state leader for new cases for the past several weeks.
"One thing we know about our region is we have, first of all, a huge agricultural base. Within that, quite a few food processing plants. They are a major employer within our region," Bodily explained.
Health officials remind everyone to continue taking safety precautions, even as the state begins to reopen.
"Don't wait until you have the virus to take precautions to keep from spreading anything you might have, or catch anything somebody else might have," Bodily urged. "Wear those masks when you go to the grocery store, keep that 6 feet of distance with people outside of your household. Make sure to stay home if you're sick."
The district has confirmed community spread in Twin Falls, Jerome, Minidoka, Blaine, and Cassia counties.
New data from the South Central Public Health District (SCPHD) shows around 30% of confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases in the region are among Hispanic and Latino residents, district wide. In Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, and Minidoka counties, the percentage of cases is disproportionately higher for Hispanic and Latino residents.
“Nationwide, we’ve seen a disproportionate number of COVID-19 cases in Hispanic/Latino and other minority communities, and our district is no exception,” said Melody Bowyer, SCPHD Director. “Access to health care, safe and adequate housing, health education, and economic stability have long been the important social determinants of health outcomes. There is much to be learned from this crisis, and the uneven disease burden of COVID-19 on different communities will perhaps be one of the most profound lessons. It’s apparent now more than ever why we must try to bridge these gaps.”
SCPHD says there are three factors to consider when it comes to why the cases are disproportionate in those areas: average household size, clusters of cases in food processing plants, and uneasiness within the community when information about COVID-19 is shared by a governmental agency.
The health district says it is not involved in any investigation into citizenship and will not inquire about immigration status while looking into confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19.
“What we care about is taking care of our residents and controlling the spread of this virus,” said Bowyer. “That is what we are focusing on in our education, our outreach, and all of our investigation.”
In the Magic Valley, SCPHD says the average household size in the Hispanic and Latino community is much higher in those counties, so even if one person in the household is sick, it has the potential to infect more people.
SCPHD also says many of the cases have come from workers in food processing plants where employees work in much closer quarters, and where increased testing is happening.