Earlier today, South Central Public Health District in cooperation with Blaine County Commissioners announced a confirmed local case of coronavirus (COVID-19). While we anticipated the likelihood of local cases, we understand that hearing this news may raise questions and concern for members of our community. A few important things to consider as we work together to limit the spread of this illness.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, use the same precautions you would for the flu and common cold. St. Luke’s recommends these infection-prevention practices:
- If you’re sick, stay home. Call your provider if you suspect you have the virus.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve – not your hands – when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean your home, workspace, shared items and other frequented locations.
- Avoid unnecessary contact with sick individuals.
- Practice social distancing – avoid large crowds.
It is still cold and flu season, and you do not need to seek medical attention for a mild respiratory illness such as a cold. However, if you have had close contact with a person with known novel coronavirus or have recently traveled to an area with ongoing spread and you develop fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, contact your primary care provider. Clinic staff will be able to complete a risk assessment over the phone and provide guidance on next steps, which may include arranging testing if necessary. Testing will not be performed for people not exhibiting symptoms. If you do not have a primary care provider, contact St. Luke’s Wood River Family Medicine at 208-788-3434 M- F, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m to schedule an appointment. If you need to call after hours, contact 208-381-9000. Idaho also has a care line, 211, to assist in finding local resources.
If you need to visit the emergency department to treat symptoms, call ahead to your local facility and ask for a protective facemask when you arrive.
St. Luke’s is capable of collecting samples to send for testing. All testing results are reported to the state. Current number of tests and people being monitored can be found on coronavirus.Idaho.gov.
“The high volume of healthy people calling our clinics and emergency departments or coming to our facilities is affecting our caregivers’ ability to provide care for those truly in need,” Carmen Jacobsen, Chief Operating Officer/CNO, St. Luke’s Wood River. “St. Luke’s has been taking steps to be prepared for COVID-19 since early January. As the situation continues to evolve, you may see us taking additional steps including putting up tents for screening and signs regarding access into our facilities. This is all part of our surge planning. This proactive planning helps us prepare to adjust to the evolving circumstances we may encounter.”
An information hotline is available:
• South Central Public Health District, which serves Blaine, Camas, Gooding, Lincoln, Jerome, Minidoka and Twin Falls Counties, can be reached 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays at 208-737-1138. * Expanded Saturday, March 14th, 2:00 – 5:00 pm and Sunday, March 15th, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm