Magic Valley COVID

Health care workers watch as two F-15E Strike Eagles and two A-10 Thunderbolts perform a fly-over at about 1,000 feet May 15 at St. Luke's Magic Valley Medical Center in Twin Falls. More than half of Idaho's new COVID-19 cases last week were out of the Magic Valley.

More than half of Idaho’s COVID-19 cases this month have come out of the Magic Valley.

Twin Falls, Jerome, Lincoln, Gooding, Camas, Blaine, Minidoka and Cassia counties have had 255 new COVID-19 cases between May 1 and 19, according to the South Central Public Health District.

That’s 54 percent of Idaho’s 470 new cases through May 19. During the week preceding May 19, the region had 106 (55 percent) of the Gem State’s 192 new cases. Between May 18 and 19, the Magic Valley accounted for 37 of the state’s 40 new cases.

Southeast Idaho’s 26 confirmed cases are small by comparison. As of Monday, Bannock County led Southeast Idaho with 16 confirmed cases, including two new cases reported Saturday. Both involved female patients in their 20s who had contact with other confirmed cases and are recovering at home.

Since the pandemic began, no county in Idaho has had more COVID-19 cases per capita than Blaine County — 510 of the state’s 2,595 total cases have come from there. But there have been just 12 new cases there in May. Blaine County has observed stricter lockdown measures than other parts of the state.

Statewide, 31 new cases were reported on Friday, and the state’s total number of deaths remained at 79.

Minidoka, Gooding and Jerome counties have seen significant jumps in cases in the past two weeks. On May 11, Minidoka County had seen 11 cases — that number’s now at 26. Throughout Idaho, only Washington County saw a bigger spike in that timeframe (going from one to 34 cases), and most of those were linked to an outbreak at a food production facility.

Gooding County has gone from 17 to 35 cases since May 11 and Jerome County’s case numbers have risen from 71 to 137.

Twin Falls and Cassia counties haven’t fared much better. Twin Falls has gone from 259 cases on May 11 to 374 cases as of Friday. Those new cases lead the state by far.

Blaine County experienced a 1 percent increase in cases between May 11 and May 19. Lincoln County, which has had a high per capita rate of infection with 30 cases, hasn’t had any residents diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past week and a half.

St. Luke’s Magic Valley Regional Medical Center officials have said the hospital has not been overwhelmed by the increase in new COVID-19 cases. They have also said the increase in new cases is likely a direct result of the state’s reopening. Doctors have encouraged people to wear masks, wash their hands frequently and continue to diligently practice social distancing.

The Idaho State Journal contributed to this report.