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South central health district, community leaders plead with public to slow the spread of COVID-19

The area has seen a surge in recent weeks in positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations
South Central Public Health Distinct is hosing a press conference following the weekly release...
South Central Public Health Distinct is hosing a press conference following the weekly release of its health risk assessment related to COVID-19.(KY3)
Published: Oct. 22, 2020 at 2:53 PM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - Six of the eight counties in the South Central Public Health District are now in the critical risk level regarding COVID-19 cases.

Cassia, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, Minidoka and Twin Falls counties are all listed in the critical risk level, with Camas County in the high risk level. Blaine County not included, as it uses different metrics.

During a Thursday afternoon press release Melody Bowyer, SCPHD director, said the agency has been working educate people to keep the hospitals from be coming overwhelmed.

“At this point, I am making a plea, help us do your part, wear a mask, washing your hands, keep your distance, avoid crowded places," Bowyer said. "We cannot do this without your help.”

The area has seen a surge in recent weeks in positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Health and government officials have implored residents to do their part to help stop the spread of the disease by washing hands, wearing a face mask, avoid large gatherings and staying home when they are sick.

Dr. Joshua Kern, vice president of medical affairs for St. Luke’s Magic Valley, Jerome, and Wood River, said the hospital has become overwhelmed, hitting a new record of 50 COVID-19 positive patients and two more deaths Wednesday night. Kern said what they are seeing at this time he describes “shocking.”

“More alarming is we’re setting records for most positive cases in the past few days,” Kern said.

Even if people take steps now to slow the spread, they might not see an impact until about a week or so from now. Kern said even with transferring patients, the places like Boise and Salt Lake City hospital’s they’ve been transferring patients to are also running out of space, and there may not be a place to transfer patients to.

The heath district’s press conference heard from a variety of community leaders and health professionals, including:

  • Ben Smalley, Cassia Regional Hospital Administrator
  • Statement from Tom Murphy, CEO of Minidoka Memorial Hospital
  • Linda Montgomery, SCPHD Board of Health Chair
  • Suzanne Hawkins, Mayor of Twin Falls City
  • Dr. L. Dean Fisher, President of CSI
  • Dr. Brady Dickinson, Superintendent of Twin Falls School District
  • Shawn Bariger and Doug Stokes, Twin Falls Chamber of Commerce
  • Dale Ducommun, Clif Bar General Manager

Video from the press conference will be added when it becomes available.

More information will be added to this story as it becomes available.

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