covid 6 feet

BLACKFOOT – As of Wednesday morning, Bingham County is officially in the moderate category of the Southeastern Idaho Public Health District (SIPH) Regional Response Plan.

The SIPH Regional Response Plan was adopted last week by the public health board made up of one county commissioner from each of the eight counties covered by the district.

The Regional Response Plan (RRP) was originally worded to require face coverings in all public areas, but the verbiage was changed by the board to state “Strongly recommend and advise the use of face coverings when in public.”

Furthermore, being in the moderate classification means that no social gatherings should exceed 150 participants; vulnerable populations (elderly, individuals with underlying health conditions) should take extra precautions; telework where possible and feasible with business operations; minimize non-essential travel; congregate living facilities (long term care, nursing homes, correctional facilities, etc.) to implement strict health policies for staff and visitors to avoid potential outbreaks; schools should implement plans in response to these guidelines and those of the Idaho Back to School Framework 2020.

The criteria designed for the RRP was built around 10 per 10,000 population sustained for three consecutive days. Bingham County is listed at hitting moderate status when it has 47 active cases being monitored for those three days, and currently the county stands at 48 for three straight days.

Adding to the criteria would be intensive care unit (ICU) bed availability. Under this criteria, the RRP states it accordingly: “Idaho’s current ICU admission rate is 1.5% of all positive cases. Based on this current rate, the above numbers of active cases could yield 4 ICU admissions every 10 days in Southerstern Idaho.” If local hospitals’ ICU bed capacity reaches 90% 2-3 times per week (surge capacity still available), any county would be considered in moderate regardless of the number of monitored cases.

Bingham County will change to high risk if the number of consecutive monitored cases reaches 94. In the high risk category, things become even more restrictive in their mitigation strategies.

In addition to the previous standards, others would be implemented as well, including more strict limitations on gatherings, social distancing, mask recommendations, and other activities to lower the possibility of increasing the cases and taxing hospitals.

If the hospitals reach a consistent threshold busting 100% capacity or exceed it, that county or area is escalated to a critical risk county where stay-at-home orders can be reissued which could include any or all of the following: limitations on mass gatherings; requirements for face coverings; limit participation in high-risk activities; business closures; limit or prohibit visitation to long-term care facilities; travel advisories and/or requirements; schools should implement plans in response to these guidelines.

With continued increases in cases, the situation will be monitored by local and state authorities.