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Coronavirus Cases In Canyon County Climb, But No Further Restrictions Are Planned For Now

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Southwest District Health, which covers Canyon County, has not imposed stricter requirements on top of the state's Stage 4 reopening guidelines.

The number of coronavirus cases in Canyon County has tripled in the past two weeks — from 435 to 1,397 on Tuesday evening. In the last week, the percent increase of cases on a per-capita basis was 83%, compared to an increase of 47% per-capita in Ada County. 

 

Despite the spike, Southwest District Health, which covers Canyon County, has no plans to move back to Stage 3 restrictions of the state's reopening plan

“Right now, at what we have, I feel like it feels a little alarming, but I feel like we’re also managing okay," said Southwest District Health Director Nikki Zogg, during a Southwest District Health board meeting on Tuesday.

In mid-June, Governor Little turned coronavirus restrictions over to local governments and health districts, and now the seven local health districts are coming up with their own criteria to determine whether jurisdictions need to roll back reopening. 

Central District Health decided to move Ada County back to a modified Stage 3 of the reopening plan two weeks ago, closing bars and large venues, and added a restriction on gatherings of more than 50 people on Tuesday. 

Eastern Idaho Public Health held a meeting last week to discuss a proposed outline of additional restrictions, and South Central Public Health is working on drafting metrics for its region. 

"We have been keeping an eye on general data right now as we develop these metrics so we can respond if conditions in any of our counties require an emergency meeting," Brianna Bodily, the South Central Public Health District public information officer, wrote in an email. 

During the Southwest District Health Board of Health Meeting, county commissioners serving as board members expressed concerns about moving back a stage or implementing further restrictions. 

“We've already seen the initial damage [of] the initial closing of businesses, people losing jobs," said Canyon County Commissioner Tom Dale. “I think we ought to leave it up to businesses to open or close based on their need."

“What is the big deal about this virus?” asked Adams County Commissioner Viki Purdy. “We know who it affects the most.” 

“This has to stop — it’s making people crazy. And the mental health problems we’re going to be dealing with after this are going to be way worse than the virus,” Purdy continued.

Most new cases in the Southwest District Health region are coming from workplaces and social gatherings such as reunions, graduation parties, funerals and weddings. 

“Rolling back to Stage 3 would likely have little impact on these activities,” Zogg wrote in an email. 

The local health care system has enough capacity to handle the current hospitalization numbers coming from the district, Zogg said. Ricky Bowman, the public health preparedness manager, said the district saw about 20 hospitalizations for COVID-19 in the past week. 

Zogg also said legal counsel had advised the health district that it is not authorized to mandate face masks, although Central District Health is considering such an order next week.  

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

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