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April 21: COVID-19 Update

Big party plans in doubt? Check out the latest recommendations from the CDC

Published online: Apr 15, 2020 Articles, CommuniTeam, East Idaho Health
Viewed 11737 time(s)

APRIL 21: Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce

Eastern Idaho Public Health is running 2 webinars this week dealing with businesses reopening. On Tuesday, the webinar is specifically for food businesses, and on Wednesday the webinar is for non food businesses.
Here are the links for them, if yall were interested in listening in:

APRIL 15: Stay at Home Order Extended

Governor Little just extended Idaho's Stay at Home Order to April 30th. Some loosening of restrictions regarding businesses that can serve customers with curbside services was also announced. It is now recommended that travelers from other areas quarantine themselves for 14 days.

APRIL 1: COVID-19 Updates at EIRMC

As the regional referral hospital for southeast Idaho, western Wyoming and southern Montana, EIRMC continues to receive patients from other hospitals who require a higher level of care.   

We were notified by St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson that they received positive test results on two patients they tested before transfer to EIRMC.  

Likewise, we were notified by Teton Valley Hospital in Driggs that they received a positive test result on a patient they tested before transfer to EIRMC.  

Because St. John’s Medical Center and Teton Valley Hospital performed the tests prior to transfer, all patients were treated as a “Person Under Investigation” (PUI) during transport and from the moment they hit the EIRMC doors.   Since we had foreknowledge of their arrival, all three patients were immediately isolated and placed in appropriate droplet precautions upon arrival at EIRMC.  We continue to follow droplet precautions, per CDC guidelines, for the safety of patients, colleagues, and visitors. 

The public health jurisdiction affiliated with a positive patient’s home address reports the positive in their tally, and is responsible for the epidemiological investigation.  The transfers from St. Johns Medical Center  will not appear on the Eastern Idaho Public Health tally for Bonneville County.   

Given EIRMC’s regional scope, a patient surge at EIRMC can occur without widespread COVID-19 in Bonneville County.   

As EIRMC continues to receive patients from outside the state, our reported data will not match the data reported by public health districts in Idaho.  

EIRMC is the regional leader in patient care, and as such, we are doing all we can to be at the forefront of response and preparedness for COVID-19.  For the last month, EIRMC leaders have prepared on multiple fronts, including surge planning for ER and ICU; continuing education for nurses, physicians and other caregivers on appropriate clinical protocols; and ensuring availability of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).  

Additional updates at EIRMC:

·         Temperature checks are being conducted for all people who enter EIRMC, including employees, physicians and designated visitors.

·         There are no visitors allowed at EIRMC, except for specific exceptions.

MARCH 30 UPDATE: Idaho National Laboratory transitions to ‘minimum-safe plus’ status

IDAHO FALLS — In light of the secretary of Energy's message to maximize telework for the safety of employees and the community at large, and in consideration of the recent state of Idaho "Stay Home" order applicable statewide, Idaho National Laboratory will transition to “minimum-safe plus” status.

This status means that only select mission critical employees will continue to work on-site to make progress on INL’s highest priority objectives. In addition, INL’s security, fire department, and emergency management will be maintained along with Continuity of Operations functions. Approximately 1,000 employees will continue to report to work at INL facilities. Simultaneously, about 3,900 employees will continue to work remotely.

“We have moved to a minimum-safe plus status to do all we can to protect our staff and our community, while still serving the nation’s needs,” said INL Director Mark Peters. “INL has been anticipating and making contingency plans for this rapidly evolving situation. We have worked closely with the Department of Energy and other government sponsors to redefine the work that’s truly essential given the changing circumstances.”

INL’s Continuity Emergency Response Group (CERG) has been fully activated, and the transition to minimum-safe plus includes the following:

  • Only essential staff will physically report to work at INL facilities. INL senior leadership will notify essential employees.
  • Buses will operate regularly through the weekend. Beginning on Monday, March 30, there will be a limited bus service schedule, which will be communicated to essential employees.
  • Employees are being asked to telecommute to the extent possible, and nonessential employees will not be allowed into INL facilities.
  • Cafeterias will remain open to support essential staff, but only grab-and-go meals will be available. In-town cafeterias and coffee kiosks are closed.

·        Any essential INL staff returning from travel (business and personal) outside the state or from a county in Idaho with confirmed community spread must self-quarantine for 14 days. 

At this time, no INL employees have tested positive for COVID-19

March 18 Update from the City of Idaho Falls

City of Idaho Falls Issues Emergency Declaration to Manage COVID-19 Response

IDAHO FALLS  – City of Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper has signed a Declaration of Local Disaster Emergency in response to the anticipated COVID-19 impact on the Idaho Falls community.

Declarations of emergency are common tools employed by cities, counties and states in response to anticipated needs related to disasters or emergencies. The city issued the official declaration today in the midst of continued response efforts to help the Idaho Falls community as it deals with the effects of closures, quarantines and other impacts related to the nationwide COVID-19 health crisis.

“A declaration of emergency is not a reflection on the state of readiness or ability to respond to everyday needs, it is just another way that we are being proactive to respond to this situation,” said Mayor Casper. “As we progress in our community response efforts, this is simply a tool to access funding and other resources that may be made available from state and federal levels that we wouldn’t normally have access to.”

Many cities across Idaho have also issued similar declarations, and more are anticipated to issue similar declarations in the coming days. President Trump recently signed a Federal declaration and Governor Brad Little issued a state declaration of emergency last week. Idaho Falls’ declaration has been signed by the Mayor and transmitted to Bonneville County Emergency Management. The declaration is expected to be ratified by the City Council at an upcoming meeting.

March 17 Update from EIRMC

Effective Wednesday, March 18, we are implementing the following additional visitor restrictions to protect our already-vulnerable hospitalized patients as well as our patient care staff.

  • Each patient will be allowed one designated visitor for the duration of their hospital stay. Patients will verbally identify their designated visitor and it will be documented by our patient care team.  This designated visitor will be screened upon entry to the hospital, as part of our existing process implemented several weeks ago.  The visitor must show ID at the screening station. 
  • Visiting hours are from 7am – 7pm.    Main Lobby doors close at 7pm.
  • Visitors must enter through the main entrance, unless they are visiting an ER patient. 

These new restrictions are in addition to restrictions that have been in place during the flu season:

  • No visitors who have had respiratory symptoms (fever with cough or fever with shortness of breath) in the last 7 days.
  • No visitors under age 18.
    Parents only allowed in the NICU.

As a reminder, all visitors and patients will be asked will be asked several questions at point of entry. Ill visitors will be asked to delay their visit until they are well. 

March 17 Update from Bingham Memorial Hospital 

Bingham Memorial Hospital (BMH) has implemented updated visitor protocols: 

  • All patients, support care givers, and staff must enter through the ER entrance.
  • All patients may have 1 support person over the age of 18 enter the facility with them.
  • All pediatric patients may have both parents as their support persons.
  • People entering for the cafeteria are not permitted in the facility at this time.
All patients, support care givers, and staff will continue to be screened at the entrance. All patients will be assessed for recent travel out of the country or to high risk areas and for any exposure to any known COVID-19 positive persons. Anyone who presents with respiratory symptoms will be placed in a mask immediately. 
Patients who call ahead to the ER or a clinic will be triaged over the phone and asked to wait in their car until an appropriate room placement is ready for them (unless they are having emergent issues). In addition, patients arriving via ambulance with possible COVID-19 will remain on the ambulance until an appropriate room is available. 

Important Reminders for Everyone

We hope this goes without saying, but please remember the most effective way to prevent the spread of communicable diseases include:
  • Frequent and thorough hand washing. 
  • Coughing into the crook of your elbow.
  • Stay home when sick.
  • Limit contact with people who are infected.
  • Use of alcohol or bleach or any other bleach or detergent or antiviral topical to wipe doorknobs and tabletops.
Because of the changing nature of COVID-19 on a daily basis, everyone at BH recognizes that it’s important to be as flexible as possible and will continue assessing the situation and implementing changes as necessary.

March 16 Update from the White House

This afternoon, President Trump and the White House Coronavirus Task Force issued new guidelines to help protect Americans during the global Coronavirus outbreak.

Even if you are young and otherwise healthy, you are at risk—and your activities can increase the risk of contracting the Coronavirus for others. Everyone can do their part. The new recommendations are simple to follow but will have a resounding impact on public health.

Download Coronavirus Guidelines for America

March 16 Update from the City of Idaho Falls

The City of Idaho Falls is implementing additional changes for public health and safety that will impact public programs and facilities throughout the city.

Beginning today, the city is suspending all classes, lessons and programs through the Parks and Recreation Department. In addition, all indoor Parks and Recreation facilities including the Aquatic Center, Ice Arena, Activity Center and the Recreation Center will be closed until further notice. While the Zoo and Golf Courses are still closed for the season, the city will be assessing operations of those facilities over the next few weeks. 

Parks and trails are still open and available to the public, although there will be no organized sports or other programs from the city at those facilities. Parks staff are increasing efforts to regularly clean and sanitize playground equipment, but urge the public to follow recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and state public health agencies regarding social distancing, hand washing and sanitizing guidelines. 

The city has increased the frequency and levels of sanitization at facilities throughout the city, including the care and cleaning of commonly touched surfaces. Hand sanitizer has been provided throughout the city and sanitizer dispensers have been installed in city facilities. Employees have also received information on hygiene and sanitization procedures recommended by the CDC and public health. 

March 16 Update from the CDC

Large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities. Examples of large events and mass gatherings include conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies. These events can be planned not only by organizations and communities but also by individuals.

Therefore, CDC, in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings, recommends that for the next 8 weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.

Events of any size should only be continued if they can be carried out with adherence to guidelines for protecting vulnerable populationshand hygiene, and social distancing.  When feasible, organizers could modify events to be virtual.

This recommendation does not apply to the day to day operation of organizations such as schools, institutes of higher learning, or businesses. This recommendation is made in an attempt to reduce introduction of the virus into new communities and to slow the spread of infection in communities already affected by the virus.  This recommendation is not intended to supersede the advice of local public health officials.

Prior Update (March 13)

The City is implementing several changes in operations and events to manage the impacts of the COVID-19 virus on the Idaho Falls community.

State public health experts have recommended postponing or canceling mass gatherings and public events with more than 250 participants where social distancing is difficult, events that draw audiences from other areas where there may have been COVID-19 exposure, or where the event’s primary audience includes participants with his risk health considerations.

“In order to help mitigate the immediate impacts of COVID-19, and to help prevent its spread, we are implementing common-sense changes that will help protect Idaho Falls residents as well as ensure that we can continue to provide essential city services,” said Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper.  “These initial measures will help us remain ready and prepared to take care of the community as this disease works its way into our area.”

Casper stressed that these changes are essential for ensuring continued city operations, and are designed to help residents and employees stay healthier and safer as the COVID-19 Pandemic grows. 

As of today, the last week of the city’s youth basketball league has been canceled.  The Joe Marmo/Wayne Lehto Ice Arena season closing will also be moved up to March 22.    

Other events remain in place at this time; however, those activities may be curtailed in the future as impacts of the COVID-19 virus are monitored and future determinations about public health are made.

The city will also be temporarily discontinuing public tours of fire stations and Idaho Falls Power.  There will also be more limited public access to city offices. 

In addition, the city has increased the frequency and levels of sanitization at facilities throughout the city, including the care and cleaning of commonly touched surfaces. Hand sanitizer has been provided throughout the city and sanitizer dispensers have been installed in city facilities.  Employees have also received information on hygiene and sanitization procedures recommended by the CDC and public health. 

“As EIPH organizes the command structure to help manage this Coronavirus spread, we will continue to work with them as part of that organization and with our partner agencies in the region to help responsibly and thoroughly respond to this issue,” said Mayor Casper.  “There is a great deal of expertise and emergency management here, and all that expertise is being brought to bear in Idaho Falls to help our community get through this challenge.”

For more information and updates on health information related to COVID-19, residents are encouraged to follow Eastern Idaho Public Health on social media and online.  Information will also be available on the City of Idaho Falls website and social media.  General health information and recommendations for individuals, families and businesses can also be found on the CDC website at

Like the novel virus itself, misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic is running rampant in certain circles, especially on social media platforms.

Do yourself a favor and steer clear of non-official (or at the very least, non-credentialed) information sources. The best route to getting up-to-date accurate information is by going straight to the coronavirus pandemic-related pages at the CDCNIH and WHO websites.

For immediacy, it's really as simple as "googling" CDC. The top hit will read, "Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) | CDC."

On our own state level, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has some helpful guidance regarding large groups and public events. Here's a notice we received earlier today:


Idaho public health experts will support any decision made by a venue or event manager to postpone or cancel mass gatherings and public events. For the purpose of this guidance, mass gatherings and events are defined as a public gathering for business, social, academic or recreational activities including, but not limited to, community, civic, public, educational, leisure, or sporting events; parades; concerts; festivals; conventions; fundraisers and similar activities.

Idaho public health experts recommend postponing or canceling mass gatherings and public events in any of the following situations:

  • The event will draw audiences or participants from communities, states, or countries with confirmed community spread of COVID-19 disease. Your local public health district can assist you in making this determination.
  • The event will be held indoors and bring together more than 250 individuals where social distancing of 6 feet or more is unlikely or not possible.
  • The event’s primary audience includes or may expose high-risk populations, including adults over the age of 60 years and people with underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes, regardless of the number of attendees.

Idaho public health experts recommend event and venue managers consider using virtual gatherings (e.g., webinar, video conferencing, live stream, etc.) as a mechanism to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure to the general public and vulnerable populations, when possible.

Idaho public health experts recommend that facilities housing large numbers of people (such as long- term care facilities, jails and corrections, shelters, etc.) implement policies now to minimize risk to their populations by limiting visitors, providing proper handwashing and hygiene facilities for staff, visitors and residents and enhancing screening for staff and visitors for symptoms of COVID-19.

Symptoms of COVID-19 generally include flu-like symptoms, a fever of 100.4°F or higher and/or respiratory infection symptoms including cough and shortness of breath.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. We all must takes steps now to protect ourselves and others, including washing hands often, practicing social distancing–-keeping 6 feet between you and others, staying home if you are sick, covering coughs and sneezes, wearing a facemask only if you are sick, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces with bleach wipes or a sanitizing spray.

Source: Eastern Idaho Public Health


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