Contact tracing in Idaho is important to stopping the spread of COVID-19

If someone you know or had spent some time with recently tested positive for COVID-19, wouldn’t you want to know about that?

Connecting with individuals who may have been exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 is a critical piece of Idaho’s plan to safely reopen and contain the spread of disease. As more people are tested, more disease will be discovered, and the spread of the disease will need to be managed and contained in safe, responsible ways. This process is called contact tracing.

Epidemiologists in Idaho’s seven local public heath districts have been organizing and leading the effort to notify people of their possible exposure to COVID-19 since the beginning of the outbreak. This is a process public health is familiar with and has used to contain communicable diseases for decades.

Here’s how it works.

When someone is diagnosed with certain infectious diseases that are reportable under state law, laboratories and healthcare providers report basic information, such as name and birthdate, of the diagnosed person (known as the “index case”) to the local and/or state public health agency.

Continue reading “Contact tracing in Idaho is important to stopping the spread of COVID-19”

Idaho Child Care Emergency Grant provides more than $1.5 million for childcare providers, applications still being accepted

Idaho has approved 155 applications for the Idaho Child Care Emergency Grant since May 1, totaling more than $1.5 million in assistance to operating childcare businesses. 

“These investments are vital to Idaho’s infrastructure as we reopen businesses and families head into summer activities,” said Ericka Rupp, Child Care Program manager in the Department of Health and Welfare (DHW). “Access to safe, quality childcare and after-school programs for families is a critical component of a successful statewide recovery.”

“We want to thank Idaho’s childcare providers for caring for Idaho’s children and for taking the necessary steps to keep your facilities and homes safe,” she added.

Gov. Brad Little announced the availability of the Idaho Child Care Emergency Grant on May 1. The grants provide daycare and childcare businesses with the financial resources to reopen and continue operating during the COVID- 19 pandemic.

Continue reading “Idaho Child Care Emergency Grant provides more than $1.5 million for childcare providers, applications still being accepted”

DHW Director Jeppesen: Idaho Enters Stage 3 of Gov. Little’s Rebound Plan on May 30

Yesterday, Gov. Brad Little announced that Idaho has met the criteria that allows the state to move to Stage 3 of the reopening of Idaho. Beginning Saturday, May 30:

  • Bars can open their doors, as long as protocols to protect workers and the public are followed.
  • Movie theaters can open in Stage 3 instead of Stage 4, as long as protocols are followed.
  • Gatherings of up to 50 people can occur, where appropriate physical distancing and precautionary measures are observed.
  • Only out-of-state travelers from areas of high spread should quarantine for 14 days after entering Idaho.

As Gov. Little said at his press conference Thursday, the health of Idahoans and Idaho’s economic rebound are not mutually exclusive – they are interconnected. Because of this, I am encouraging Idahoans to continue following recommended precautions:

  • Keep at least six feet between you and others in public
  • Wear face coverings in public places (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus, and do not know it, from transmitting it to others)
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Wash your hands often
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Disinfect surfaces and objects regularly

One of the strengths of Idahoans is our ability to rise to any occasion. When we are asked to follow guidelines to protect our neighbors and friends, we do. Our ability to navigate this pandemic is directly related to our ability to remain flexible in how we live and how we engage with others. Almost weekly, Idahoans have adapted to new ways of living and working. I appreciate and respect those efforts.

Continue reading “DHW Director Jeppesen: Idaho Enters Stage 3 of Gov. Little’s Rebound Plan on May 30”

Gov. Brad Little Unveils Testing Strategy for Idaho: An Update from DHW Director Dave Jeppesen

Expanded Testing Designed to Inform Mitigation Efforts

Today, at Gov. Brad Little’s press conference, he outlined Idaho’s new testing strategy developed by the COVID-19 Testing Task Force. The testing strategy recommends expansion of testing and contact tracing and outlines how Idaho will prioritize testing across the state. It is important to note that the testing strategy is one part of an integrated response to the pandemic mitigation efforts in Idaho. The Division of Public Health will now develop an action plan to implement the testing strategy.

Just a few weeks ago, because of limited testing capacity, epidemiologists and others across the United States were recommending testing only for those who were symptomatic. Today, testing capacity has increased, and the Testing Task Force plan recommends prioritized expansion of testing across Idaho. The plan will be updated periodically.

Have a Safe and Healthy Memorial Day Weekend

As we enter into this Memorial Day weekend, I encourage the residents of Idaho to do those things that give you a sense of normalcy in your lives. I hope you can enjoy biking or hiking in the mountains of Idaho, walking in your neighborhood, or having cookouts and small family gatherings.

Continue reading “Gov. Brad Little Unveils Testing Strategy for Idaho: An Update from DHW Director Dave Jeppesen”

Idaho COVID-19: ‘We expect there to be bumps and blips in the data’

From very early in the COVID-19 outbreak, Gov. Brad Little and Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) Director Dave Jeppesen have attributed the decisions they are making about how to respond to the pandemic in Idaho to the latest scientific evidence available.

That scientific evidence is provided through the expertise of the public health staff at the department and at the local public health districts, but also largely from the data being generated from the outbreak and posted at https://coronavirus.idaho.gov/.

Epidemiologic data are collected from multiple sources, including people, clinics, labs, and hospitals. The completeness and timeliness of the information can vary drastically, depending on how the data are reported and who is reporting it.

Although Idaho is ahead of a lot of other states in our ability to accept electronic data from laboratories and clinical partners, it is not unusual for those records to have missing information. Data received from clinical and laboratory partners are considered preliminary. Information is verified during case investigations, which are often conducted over several days by epidemiologists, and information is gathered from healthcare providers and patients to complete the investigation. Continue reading “Idaho COVID-19: ‘We expect there to be bumps and blips in the data’”

Idaho Enters Stage 2: A Thank You from DHW Director Dave Jeppesen 

The Choices We Make Determine Our Future

Gov. Brad Little announced at his press conference yesterday that Idaho has met the criteria that allows the state to move to Stage 2 of the reopening of Idaho.

Thanks to the people of Idaho, who have closely followed the recommended precautions, we are moving through the stages as planned. As the Governor said, we control the outcome. We control our future. The choices I make, and the choices you make, determine what happens in Idaho.

It is very important to continue to do the following:

  • Stay home as much as possible
  • Wear a cloth face covering in public (this helps protect others)
  • Keep six feet between you and others
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Disinfect surfaces and objects regularly
  • Stay home if you are ill

Continue reading “Idaho Enters Stage 2: A Thank You from DHW Director Dave Jeppesen “

The Rebound Idaho Plan Depends on all Idahoans: An Update from DHW Director Dave Jeppesen

Each Of Us Can Keep Idaho Moving Forward

I know, because I have heard from many of you these past few weeks, that you are worried about “one step forward, two steps back.” No one wants Idaho to have go backwards; we all want to get our economy moving and help Idahoans get back to work.

Fortunately, the staged reopening of Idaho depends on the people I trust the most, Idahoans. I would encourage all of us to continue to:

  • Stay home as much as possible
  • Wear a cloth face covering in public (this helps protect others)
  • Keep six feet between you and others
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Disinfect surfaces and objects regularly
  • Stay home if you are ill

I can’t stress enough how important it is for us all to continue to follow recommended precautions to make sure we do not see a spike in COVID-19 cases. It really is up to all of us to keep our families, friends, and neighbors safe from the spread of this virus which will keep Idaho businesses open and thriving. Thank you for doing your part to help Idaho rebound. Continue reading “The Rebound Idaho Plan Depends on all Idahoans: An Update from DHW Director Dave Jeppesen”