MERIDIAN — Crush the Curve Idaho is preparing to respond to what could be a major spike in COVID-19 cases in the coming days and weeks.
The nonprofit organization, which is dedicated to helping fight the novel coronavirus, is preparing to launch two additional Treasure Valley pop-up sites for COVID-19 active virus testing as early as Friday — one in the Eagle area and the other in East Boise. The additional sites are dependent on partnerships with medical providers and the state.
In the past few days the organization has seen a large spike in people completing its online COVID-19 assessment questionnaire, noting symptoms and/or recent exposure to an infected individual.
“Since launching the assessment in mid-April, we’ve had more than 40,000 people complete it,” said Tina Upson, Crush the Curve Idaho’s executive director. “So far this week our daily number of viral assessments is more than double what we saw last week, which was double from the week before that. So, when we see a trend like this, we know we have to get ready to deploy more resources.”
Crush the Curve Idaho’s strike force has developed an internal resource deployment plan which is triggered by an aggregate of data points collected from a community, one of which is comparing its daily volume of online assessments (that noted symptoms and/or recent exposure) to the state's daily reporting on new cases. The numbers show a strong correlation between the assessment numbers and the state's numbers, with the assessment data acting as an 8 day leading indicator.
“By overlaying our symptomatic assessments with the states reporting of new cases, we noticed our symptomatic assessments rise in certain locations weeks before an increase of cases were reported from the state,” Upson said. “We continue to watch this data closely and have utilized it in the development of our triggered resources deployment plan to ensure communities experiencing outbreaks have what they need to test and trace COVID-19 adequately.”
If the correlation continues and the testing capacity is met for the individuals needing it, the organization says there will be at least 1,600 new cases reported between June 24th and July 2. Based on its numbers, Crush the Curve Idaho expects the bulk of the testing need and potential spike in cases to hit the Treasure Valley.
“In order for Idaho to confront this illness in a meaningful way AND remain open, we need to test and trace our people appropriately. At Crush the Curve Idaho, we have ramped up our COVID-19 active virus testing capacity to more than 16,000 tests a day to help meet this impending need,” said Upson, “but I’m worried it won’t be enough. We have people being sent to us from some of the largest health systems in the state because they can’t test them. I’m worried that the last few months have been spent talking and not preparing.”
Currently, Idaho is in last place for testing per capita within the United States. To aid the state and Idaho’s health systems in testing, Crush the Curve Idaho believes additional testing sites around the Treasure Valley are needed to help meet the demand during this COVID-19 spike.
Upson applauded the efforts of Idahoans that have come to the site and taken the assessment. She said this high level of engagement is extremely important to the organization as it continues to deliver on its commitment to crush the curve. The more Idahoans that participate, Upson said, the more Crush the Curve Idaho can take triggered actions to fight the pandemic.
"The assessment data helps us keep a pulse on where we are headed as a state," she said. "And while we’d love for our predictions to be wrong, we have also tirelessly prepared for them to be right."
Individuals needing to be tested can go to Crush the Curve Idaho’s website to take the assessment and get directed to testing centers. Meanwhile, the nonprofit can also help companies, schools and other organizations through its group testing program.
“Our goal with the group testing program is to give organizations a way to test quickly and on a recurring basis, while driving down costs and overcoming supply chain issues,” Upson said. “Our lab partners have the capacity to process more than 16,000 tests a day.”
Upson also said that the organization was reprioritizing its resources to focus on COVID-19 active virus testing over antibody testing. Crush the Curve Idaho’s antibody testing at the 10-Mile Crossing site in Meridian will be on hold during the current spike in the Treasure Valley.
“We’re deploying all of our resources to help prevent outbreaks and provide testing to organizations with mandates under the governor’s new priority groups,” Upson said. “Until a vaccine is released, testing is one of the best weapons we have in combating the spread of COVID-19.”
For more information, please visit Crush the Curve Idaho’s website at CrushTheCurveIdaho.com.