(City of Pocatello Press Release from SIPH, October 29, 2020)
In July, Southeastern Idaho Public Health’s (SIPH) Board of Health adopted the COVID-19 Regional Response Plan for the eight-county region (Bannock, Bear Lake, Bingham, Butte, Caribou, Franklin, Oneida & Power). The plan outlines risk levels starting with Minimal Risk/green and escalates toward Critical Risk/red. Each level has its own metrics and recommended mitigation strategies to reduce the impact of COVID-19. Different parts of SIPH’s region may be at different risk levels at any one time.
In SIPH’s Board of Health meeting on October 29, the SIPH Board, which consists of county commissioners and representatives from each county, made the decision to utilize SIPH’s Response Plan metrics and mitigation strategies to increase COVID-19 risk levels to high in the following counties: Bannock, Bingham and Caribou. Bear Lake County will stay at the moderate risk level. Butte, Power and Franklin remained in the high-risk category and lastly, Oneida moved to the moderate risk category.
Changes in the risk levels was based on the active case rates, hospital capacity, percent positivity for testing, and the impact COVID is having on their communities. Per the Plan, risk levels will be assessed again in two weeks. To review risk category definitions, recommended mitigation strategies, and basic metric information for each county, visit SIPH’s website at siphidaho.org.
The decision by the SIPH Board of Health to increase to the higher risk level mimics the Governor’s Stage 3 Plan in that there is a limit to indoor gatherings of 50 people and outdoor gatherings to no more than 25% of the occupant capacity. However, the Governor’s plan restricts operation of bars, restaurants and nightclubs to seating only, and nightclubs may only operate as a bar. Additionally, all long-term care facilities must require that masks be worn on their premises.
According the SIPH Regional Response Plan counties (Bannock, Bingham, Caribou, Butte, Franklin & Power) under the high-risk category, should follow the follow additional guidelines, which are recommended but not mandated:
• Strongly recommend and advise face coverings when in public
• Limit gatherings to no more than 50 people
• Encourage vulnerable populations (elderly, individuals with underlying health conditions) to self isolate
• Strongly encourage telework for those that are able
• Limiting travel/visitors to the region as well as travel within the State to areas with high rates of spread
• Congregate living facilities closed to visitors and extra precautions implemented for employees
• Businesses implement delivery/curb-side services as much as possible
• Places of worship implement virtual services where possible
• Discontinue youth and adult sports/activities in which physical distancing is not possible
• Consider industry-specific measures/restrictions
• Schools should implement plans in response to these guidelines and those of Idaho Back to School Framework 2020
Counties (Bear Lake & Oneida) under the Moderate-risk category, should follow the following guidelines, which are recommended but not mandated:
• Strongly recommend and advise the use of face coverings when in public
• Vulnerable populations (elderly, individuals with underlying health conditions) take extra precautions
• Telework where possible and feasible with business operations
• Minimize non-essential travel
• Congregate living facilities (long term care, nursing homes, correctional facilities, etc.) to implement strict health policies for staff and visitors to avoid potential outbreaks
• Schools should implement plans in response to these guidelines and those of the Idaho Back to School Framework 2020
To review SIPH’s Regional Response plan visit https://www.siphidaho.org/psa/2020/jul/COVID-19-Regional-Response-Plan-adopted-by-BOH-07232020.pdf.
“I support our Board’s decision to act, based upon data, to enact recommendations for measures intended to protect the health of their communities,” said Maggie Mann, Southeastern Idaho Public Health District Director. “No matter the risk category, we urge all residents to take precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19. This includes practicing physical distancing of at least 6 feet, wearing a mask when interacting with others outside your household, washing hands frequently, sanitizing commonly touched surfaces regularly, and isolating immediately if you begin showing symptoms of any virus.”
For southeast Idaho specific information about the novel coronavirus, please visit https://siphidaho.org/coronavirus.php.
For Idaho-specific information about the novel coronavirus, please visit https://coronavirus.idaho.gov/.
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SIPH has a COVID Hotline to field questions from the community and is open Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You can reach the hotline at (208) 234-5875.