City of Ketchum responds to recent COVID-19 surge
City council passes resolution recommending indoor and outdoor face coverings
KETCHUM, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) —When it comes to vaccinations in Idaho, Blaine County has the highest rate in the state, according to the Idaho Division of Public Health. However, the county is still being impacted, like others in the state, with this most recent COVID-19 surge. Some local leaders are now taking proactive measures to mitigate the spread of the virus.
The vaccination rate in Blaine County is well over 70 percent. According to the South Central Public Health District, the COVID Risk Level in Blaine County is critical, due largely to overwhelmed local and regional hospitals dealing with capacity issues.
“What we continue to hear from the hospital is a lot of the impact on the hospital has not actually been from locals it has been from people visiting,” said Public Information Officer Brianna Bodily of the SCPHD. “Many of those people hospitalized with COVID-19 are not vaccinated.”
During the summer season, Ketchum’s population nearly triples due to the number of tourists coming into the area looking to enjoy the outdoors and recreate. The population influx might have been even higher this summer due to some people looking to escape COVID-19 restrictions in neighboring states.
“Even though Blaine County has been fantastic about getting vaccinated that rate might not be that high once you factor in all those people coming in,” Bodily said.
Due to the recent COVID-19 surge, the Ketchum City Council passed a resolution that at this time recommends indoor and outdoor face coverings when social distancing is not possible. One of the goals of the resolution is to support the efforts made by the Blaine County School to ensure that in-school learning will be available to students this school year. The school district has an indoor face mask requirement when the community spread is at certain levels of concern. The city also wants to take pressure off the local healthcare facilities.
“So all of this is a chance to raise awareness and to help people help themselves as we navigate ourselves through this pandemic,” said Ketchum Mayor Neil Bradshaw.
Due to the staffing shortage in the area, some local businesses who are concerned about the health of their workers are in support of the resolution.
“It gives us a little something to talk to the customers about because you got some customers who are wearing masks, some customers that are not, " said Councilman Micahel David who also works at PK’s Ski and Sports. “We are not going to talk to them about vaccinations.”
He also said he is already seeing a positive response from the community.
“I think the percentage of people wearing masks, again just voluntarily, is well over 50 percent of the people who come into our store,” said David. “At the grocery store, I would venture to say it’s even higher.”
With the summer tourist season coming to a close Bradshaw hopes this recent COVID surge will come to a close too.
“We are all just trying our best, and we are all on these shifting sands,” said Bradshaw. “I think we have to remain nimble, remain responsive, and remain thoughtful for everyone around us.”
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