Twin Falls Sees Biggest Increase In COVID-19 Cases In Week After Idaho's Reopening
Twin Falls County saw its biggest increase in coronavirus cases during the week following Idaho's move to stage one of its reopening plan, according to Melody Bowyer, the director of the South Central Public Health District.
In that stage, which began on May 1, Gov. Brad Little said around 90% of businesses were allowed to open.
In her weekly update on Facebook, Bowyer said the county saw a 45% increase in new cases in the past week. Idaho added 129 new lab-confirmed cases last week; almost 40% of them were in Twin Falls County.
"As people are moving around more in our communities, we are seeing more disease transmission," Bowyer said. Short of an effective vaccine or antivirals, social distancing and good hand hygience are the only effective public health measures, she said.
Twin Falls is the shopping hub for the region, with a Target, Costco, Walmart and Home Depot, among other box stores. Many of these never shut down because they were considered essential, and continue to draw customers from other counties.
Other counties in south central Idaho, including Jerome, Gooding and Lincoln, have also seen some of the largest increases in cases in the state in the past two weeks, when adjusted for population.
Dr. Joshua Kern, the vice presient of medical affairs for St. Luke's hospitals in Ketchum, Jerome and Twin Falls, said St. Luke's Magic Valley noticed an uptick in positive cases in the past week. He spoke at the Twin Falls City Council meeting on Monday.
Demand for testing at St. Luke's hospitals in the region is down, he said, but the percentage of positive results coming back is up. He said the hospitals have not noticed an increase in coronavirus patients needing hospitalization.
Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen
Copyright 2020 Boise State Public Radio
Member support is what makes local COVID-19 reporting possible. Support this coverage here.