Five southeastern Idaho residents who contracted COVID-19 after attending a religious revival last month in Idaho Falls have been hospitalized, regional health officials told the Post Register on Monday.
The health officials, who represent Eastern and Southeastern Idaho Public Health Districts, said 35 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 have been linked to a religious revival at Idaho Falls Potter's House Christian Center that was held in late May. They said it's the largest number of COVID-19 cases that came out of a single event in the area.
"It's just a good example of how contagious COVID-19 is and how important it is to follow (safety) recommendations," said Tracy McCulloch, community health director for Southeastern Idaho Public Health District.
McCulloch said one attendee told health officials that 45 to 60 people were at the revival, which she said lasted four days. East Idaho News first reported on the revival last week.
Idaho tracks COVID-19 cases by which regional health district the person lives in, not by which health district a person contracts COVID-19 in, said James Corbett, community health division director for Eastern Idaho Public Health District.
The cases linked with this event are spread across two health districts: Eastern Idaho Public Health District, which spans the eastern corner of the state, and Southeastern Idaho Public Health District, which includes counties such as Bannock and Bingham, along with the Fort Hall Indian Reservation.
Eastern Idaho Public Health District reported 11 confirmed and 7 probable cases from people who attended the religious revival. Corbett said the District is monitoring 26 other people for possible infection. Southeastern Idaho Public Health District reported 16 confirmed cases are linked to people who attended the event; one confirmed case is linked to someone who didn't attend it but had direct contact with someone who did, McCulloch said.
The health districts provided the Post Register with limited demographic information about these cases because health officials said they couldn't divulge health information that could identify any specific person. But the information they did provide shows that many people who contracted COVID-19 at the event were young and Latino.
Idaho Latinos have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, as the Idaho Press reported last month. Nationally, Latinos and African-Americans — who are also disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 — have higher death rates than do white people, according to National Public Radio.
Here's the age breakdown of the 34 people who contracted COVID-19 after attending the event:
— 7 are younger than 18 years old
— 10 in their 20s
— 8 are in their 30s
— 6 are in their 40s
— 2 are in their 50s
— 1 is in their 70s
Corbett said on Monday that 72% — or 15 of 18 — of the people with confirmed or probable cases in the Eastern Idaho Public Health District that are linked to the event are of Hispanic or Latino descent. McCulloch refused to share information about race and ethnicity for the 17 confirmed cases in Southeastern Idaho Public Health District.
"With the rural nature of southeast Idaho, the more information that we provide to you, it can identify the individual," McCulloch said.
Both Corbett and McCulloch refused to provide demographic information that is specific to the five people hospitalized with COVID-19 after the event, saying that the information could identify specific individuals and that sharing it would violate health privacy laws.
Last week, eastern Idaho public health officials said the area reached an all-time high rate of COVID-19 spread, and that some new COVID-19 cases are linked with social gatherings where people didn't adhere to safety measures, such as socially distancing themselves, wearing masks, and self-isolating when they're sick.
Eastern Idaho Public Health District recommends people continue to follow safety measure to reduce the likelihood of contracting COVID-19, such as:
— Staying home if sick.
— Practicing self-distancing (maintaining at least 6 feet between individuals).
— Wearing a fabric face covering or mask when in public settings where other social-distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
— Covering your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or our sleeve.
— Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
— Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.
— Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer.
— Limiting close contact with people who are sick.