St. Luke’s: ‘We Are At A Tipping Point’

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This chart puts into perspective the uptick of COVID-19 cases now in comparison to the onset of the pandemic, which impacted the Valley first and most in Idaho this spring. Image credit: Idaho Division of Public Health

Local medical providers sound the COVID risk alarm

By Eric Valentine

This chart puts into perspective the uptick of COVID-19 cases now in comparison to the onset of the pandemic, which impacted the Valley first and most in Idaho this spring. Image credit: Idaho Division of Public Health

The group of doctors and local organizations focused on health and wellness is sounding the alarm and hoping Valley residents do not keep hitting snooze. The so-called Adaptive Planning Committee—made up of nine physicians and Blaine County, Blaine County School District, The Hunger Coalition, St. Luke’s Wood River medical staff, South Central Public Health District, and Visit Sun Valley—announced Monday that Blaine County has entered the “Critical Risk” phase for uncontrolled spread of COVID-19.

“We have had alarms go off for seven months about COVID, we know there’s fatigue, but we cannot hit snooze,” the committee said. “We are at a tipping point.”

The announcement comes on the heels of a video-conference town hall meeting late last week, where county leaders and regional health officials discussed the recent surge in cases and hospitalizations and called for renewed efforts to mitigate the novel virus. It also follows the City of Hailey’s decision to issue a health order that removes the medical exemption for face coverings and further restricts group sizes even on private property.

From Oct. 4 – Oct. 10, cases of COVID-19 are higher than the week in March right before the Valley went to shelter in place.

“This time, we have mitigation measures in place and hope to avoid that blunt tool. No one wants that to happen again. It affects our kids, our economy, our mental health and our long-term physical health,” the committee wrote in its statement to the press.

However, unlike in March, Idaho overall is experiencing a surge in cases and regional hospital capacity and staffing levels are strained. Last week the health district had more cases in one week than all of March and April combined. Because of rapidly rising COVID-related visits, there is growing concern by healthcare providers about the local capacity to care for trauma and other non-COVID illness.

“We have tools to fight COVID collectively. We need to deploy them more vigorously and take additional ones from the toolbox,” the committee noted.

Here’s what the Adaptive Planning Committee is doing and asking residents, visitors, and businesses to do as well:

● Wear a mask in public, washing hands frequently and watching your distance from others.

● Limit interactions with those outside your household. Tighten your social circle and limit indoor gatherings to less than 10. Better yet, limit indoor gatherings to those in your household.

● We all want to support our local restaurants and shops, so consider take-out versus indoor dining and buying local versus buying online or traveling to other areas to shop.

● Minimize travel and plan your shopping and errands to minimize interactions.

● Take care of yourself by exercising, getting enough sleep, eating right and staying hydrated. Find ways to unplug and reduce stress.

● Take care of each other: Be kind and gracious. Thank each other for wearing a mask and smile, even when wearing a mask—it can affect your emotion and may be seen in your eyes. Check in with family, friends and neighbors.

“We received national attention for the outbreak in the spring, it’s not the kind of attention we want,” the group added.