Even if current social distancing guidelines continue, President Donald Trump on Tuesday warned Americans to brace for a “rough two-week period” ahead as the White House released new projections that there could be 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the U.S. from the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement comes just hours after the U.S. death toll from coronavirus climbed past 3,600, eclipsing China’s official count. Worldwide, more than 800,000 people have been infected and over 40,000 have died, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. Italy and Spain accounted for half the deaths, while the U.S. had over 180,000 infections.
Trump called American efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus “a matter of life and death” and urged the public to heed his administration’s social distancing guidelines. He predicted the country would soon see a “light at the end of the tunnel” in the pandemic.
Since Idaho Gov. Brad Little implemented a statewide stay-at-home order on March 25, the Gem State’s confirmed COVID-19 case count, the infection caused by the new coronavirus, has more than quadrupled and nine Idahoans have died from the illness, according to state public health officials.
Idaho is now reporting a total of 525 COVID-19 infections after testing over 6,600 people, the state’s coronavirus website says.
Positive COVID-19 infections in East Idaho, which includes the Southeastern and Eastern Idaho public health districts, remain low with a total of 20 confirmed cases and no deaths.
Southeastern Idaho Public Health district officials announced two new confirmed cases in Southeast Idaho on Tuesday — one in Bannock County and one in Bingham County.
The Bannock County patient is a male in his 30s who is self-isolating at home. The investigation in this case has led health officials to believe it was travel-related.
The Bingham County patient is a female in her 40s who is hospitalized at this time.
The investigation into this case remains ongoing, and officials do not know if it’s travel-related.
Bannock and Madison counties have the highest infection rates in East Idaho with four confirmed positive cases each; Jefferson has three confirmed cases; Bingham, Bonneville, Custer and Teton each have reported two confirmed cases; and Fremont county has one confirmed case.
The Eastern Idaho Public Health district said in a Tuesday news release that it had a reporting error for the county of residence for one of its new cases listed in Madison County on Monday.
“One of the three positive cases resides in Jefferson County but spends a considerable amount of time in Madison County where the community transmission is believed to have occurred,” EIPH District Director Mimi Taylor said in the release. “Therefore, we have subtracted one case from Madison County (total 4) and have added one case to Jefferson County (total 3).”
The counties of Ada — home to the Treasure Valley cities of Boise and Meridian — and Blaine — home to the Wood River Valley cities of Sun Valley and Hailey — remain Idaho’s coronavirus epicenters.
As of Tuesday evening, Ada is reporting 195 positive COVID-19 infections and three coronavirus-related deaths, and Blaine is reporting 192 positive COVID-19 infections and two coronavirus-related deaths.
The next most infected counties after Ada and Blaine are Canyon — home to the cities of Nampa and Caldwell — with 53 positive COVID-19 infections and one death and Kootenai — home to Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls — with 30 positive COVID-19 infections and no deaths.
The most recent Idaho deaths related to COVID-19 occurred in the counties of Nez Perce, which has reported two total deaths, and Cassia, which reported its first death Monday.
The Cassia County patient was a woman older than 70, who was hospitalized and had complicating health factors, public health officials said. The woman got the virus from visitors to her home from areas that had community spread and transmission.
No information has been released about the second COVID-19 death in Nez Perce County, but the first death in that county was reported on March 27. The individual was over the age of 80 with age-related health issues.
A total of five counties are reporting community transmission of COVID-19, including Ada, Blaine, Canyon, Kootenai and Madison, according to state public health records.
Community transmission involves the spread of illness for which the source of the infection is unknown and cannot be connected to travel or close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19.
Idaho public health officials will continue to monitor the coronavirus pandemic closely and are working with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, city and county leaders, schools, emergency management, health care providers and the community at large to help prevent its spread.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, SIPH recommends the following:
- Follow Gov. Little’s statewide stay-home order.
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Avoid people who are sick.
- Practice social distancing (6 feet).
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs using a disinfecting solution.
For more information, call SIPH’s call center Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 208-234-5875.
For Idaho-specific information about the novel coronavirus, visit coronavirus.idaho.gov. For Southeast Idaho information, visit siphidaho.org or tune into the SIPH Facebook page Monday through Friday at 11 a.m. for regional daily briefing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.