SW District Health sets interim health alert criteria

Idaho's District 3, the Southwest District is comprised of six counties. 

CALDWELL — Three counties in Southwest District Health on Thursday moved from an orange a red health alert level, the most severe.

The change was based on rising daily incidence rates from Nov. 1-14.

Five of the district's six counties, including Canyon County, are now in red, while Adams County remains in orange. 

Canyon County has a raising rate of 6.31 daily new cases per 10,000 people, along with outbreaks and transmission in multiple schools, according to the health district. Fourteen congregate living facilities are seeing cluster outbreaks.

Only two-thirds of COVID-19 cases have reported knowing where they were exposed, which points to sustained community spread. District health investigators are continuing to see cases exposed through social and community gatherings.

Canyon County's positivity rate for COVID-19 tests has continued to increase to 17.83%, which is concerning SWDH epidemiologists. 

As of Thursday, Canyon County has 265 school staff and students in quarantine and 70 school staff and students in isolation. Those in quarantine have been identified as a close contact of a positive case and are being asked to stay home for 14 days to monitor for symptoms. Those in isolation are currently positive for COVID-19 and are asked to isolate away from others for a minimum of 10 days from the onset of symptoms.

Other incidence rates in Southwest District Health:

Adams County: 3.53 daily new cases per 10,000 people, which is decreasing. Many of these new cases can be traced to one cluster of cases. One school in Adams County is experiencing a cluster outbreak.

Gem County: 5.92 daily cases per 10,000 people, and a test positivity rate of 15.38%. One congregate care facility is facing a sustained COVID-19 outbreak, and local health care providers are concerned with staffing shortages and hospital capacity. Multiple schools in Gem County are experiencing cluster outbreaks among students and staff.

Owyhee County: 5.01 daily cases per 10,000 people, which increased dramatically. The test positivity rate is 21.64%, which shows that COVID-19 is more prevalent in the community than data shows, according to the health district. SWDH epidemiologists are seeing cluster outbreaks in workplaces, businesses, and through community gatherings. There were multiple sporadic, imported case of COVID-19 within Owyhee County schools during the two-week date range with no evidence of transmission within schools.

Payette County: 5.37 daily new cases per 10,000 people, which is increasing. SWDH epidemiologists are concerned by cluster outbreaks within local workplace settings, households, and from social gatherings. Payette County has a test positivity rate of 15.41%. Many Payette County schools are seeing sporadic, imported cases of COVID-19 with one school reporting a cluster outbreak.

Washington County: 7.80 daily cases per 10,000 people, which is increasing dramatically. The positivity rate is 19.86%. Transmission is occurring within workplaces, households, and among health care workers. Multiple Washington County schools are seeing sporadic, imported cases of COVID-19 with transmission occurring within one school. Hospitalizations in the county are up. No elective surgeries have been postponed, the health district said, correcting last week's news release.