Community spread of coronavirus hits Boise area. ‘Important announcement’ coming
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Community spread of coronavirus hits Boise area. ‘Important announcement’ coming

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Coronavirus Outbreak

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, orange, emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. 

BOISE — Ada County has its first case of community spread coronavirus, Central District Health and Southwest District Health announced Tuesday night in a joint press release.

Community spread or transmission is defined as illness within a community that lacks connection to travel or other confirmed cases, according to the health districts’ release.

One additional case of coronavirus in Ada County is still pending an investigation. Two cases in Canyon County and one case in Payette County also remain under investigation.

“There is no way for definitive source identification with travel-related cases,” CDH Public Information Officer Christine Myron wrote in an email to the Idaho Statesman. “We rely on a person’s travel history in conjunction with information like symptom onset to determine the likely acquisition risks.”

Idaho health districts have reported 92 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 24 in Ada County and six in Canyon County. The novel coronavirus causes the COVID-19 disease.

“CDH and SWDH are closely monitoring COVID-19 cases in their jurisdictions and anticipate continued spread of this illness throughout Idaho and our counties,” the districts’ press release said. “Both local health districts urge their communities to follow outlined strategies to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and avoid overwhelming our health care system while protecting our most vulnerable populations.”

Ada and Canyon counties form the bulk of the Boise metro area. Community risk remains low, the health districts said, but that is “rapidly changing.”

Ada is the second Idaho county with confirmed community spread, joining Blaine. Gov. Brad Little announced an Order to Self-Isolate in Blaine County, also known as “shelter in place,” almost immediately after the community spread was revealed.

Boise is under a social distancing order from Mayor Lauren McLean requiring 6-foot spacing between people outside their “immediate household,” but policies vary throughout the Treasure Valley. McLean has closed restaurant dining rooms, indoor fitness facilities and city playgrounds.

“As you can imagine, we are investigating and tracking all of these cases closely and in our jurisdiction,” Myron wrote. “It is possible as we begin seeing additional community transmission that additional actions could come, but there’s not a specific numerical threshold that would elicit a stronger course of actions.”

Little has been reluctant to take restrictive actions outside of Blaine County. He’s due to address the media Wednesday afternoon.

“I will make an important announcement about Idaho’s COVID-19 response tomorrow at Gowen Field at 1:30 pm.,” Little tweeted Tuesday night. “A public release with more information will immediately follow.”

The Blaine County Order to Self-Isolate directed everyone living in the county to stay home with some exceptions. Violation of, or failure to comply with, the order could constitute a misdemeanor publishable by fine, imprisonment or both, the order said.

Blaine residents may leave to provide or receive certain essential services, engage in certain essential activities and work for essential business and government services. The order also exempts individuals experiencing homelessness from the order, but urges them to find shelter or contact a government agency that can help; directs all businesses and governmental agencies to cease operations at physical locations in the county; prohibits any non-essential gatherings of any number of people; and orders all non-essential travel to cease. Restaurants still can provide takeout and delivery.

Cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in 14 of Idaho’s 44 counties: Ada, Canyon, Bannock, Bingham, Blaine, Cassia, Jefferson, Kootenai, Madison, Nez Perce, Payette, Teton, Twin Falls and Valley counties. The Valley County case was a part-time resident of that county who was tested in Ada.

Jefferson, Nez Perce and Payette were added to the list Tuesday.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported 1,887 tests had been completed statewide at the end of the day Tuesday. About 4.9% have been positive for COVID-19.

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