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Central District Health: Despite Vaccine Rollout, Keep Your Mask On

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The Board of Central District Health met Friday morning for an update on the spread of COVID-19, the strain found in the United Kingdom and vaccine distribution, among other items.

Infection rates have come down from early December’s case load, but District Communicable Disease Program Specialist Kimberly Link notes an upward trend, with an alarming rate of infection in Valley County.

In the four counties Link warns an increased spread might tax an already-strained number of available ICU beds.

When it comes to the distribtuion of the COVID-19 vaccine, about one-third of vaccine doses administered in Idaho have been in the Central Health District.

“We're in a position that the vaccine is not going to be providing that community-level protection that we need for a while,” said Link.

Health Preparedness Program manager Natalie Bodine says even though more people are eligible to get immunized, distribution is still a challenge.

“The demand for the vaccine is much greater than the supply,” she said. “Our dose allocations are still pretty low.”

The more contagious viral strain first identified in the UK has not been detected in the health district. But Link says once it’s found here, it will likely have been circulating for weeks. Local labs cannot directly test for the variant and will have to use outside labs to confirm suspicious specimens.

“Our efforts for contact tracing and really clamping down on the spread of it may be a bit challenging,” Link said.

As Idaho moves into week six of the vaccination process, Central District Health is also eyeing the nomination of Raul Labrador as he replaces Commissioner Diana Lachiondo as Ada County’s new representative on Central District Health. The board also briefly addressed the hiring of a lobbyist as a liaison with legislators at the statehouse.

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