COVID-19: Facts vs. Fiction

There is a lot of COVID-19 information available through social media and other communications channels. Some of it is helpful and factual, and some of it is opinion or speculation. And some is just plain false. We want to help you separate the COVID-19 facts from fiction as you navigate through this pandemic.

Is wearing a mask or cloth face covering really helpful? The evidence is clear — cloth face coverings reduce the spread of COVID-19. They serve two purposes: to protect the public from those who may be infected with COVID-19 and to protect those infected with COVID-19 from spreading the disease to others.

Wearing a mask is most effective when everyone does it, and it also shows respect and concern for your neighbors and community. Masks are appropriate when physical distancing of at least six feet is not possible.

Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under the age of 2, anyone with difficulty breathing, anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated, or unable to remove the covering without assistance.

Does COVID-19 more severely affect older adults? Yes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as you get older, your risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases. For example, people in their 50s are at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 40s. Similarly, people in their 60s or 70s are, in general, are at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 50s. The greatest risk for severe illness from COVID-19 is among those aged 85 or older.

There are also other factors that can increase your risk for severe illness, such as underlying medical conditions. By understanding the factors that put you at an increased risk, you can make decisions about what kind of precautions you should take in your daily life.

Continue reading “COVID-19: Facts vs. Fiction”

Public Health staff, programs work hard to keep Idahoans safe and healthy. We need your support during COVID-19.

Public Health employees take their jobs to protect the health and safety of Idahoans very seriously, even when Idaho isn’t in the middle of a deadly pandemic.

Public health practitioners look after our health and safety in Idaho through a range of services that include, but are not limited to, maternal and child health, immunizations, chronic and communicable diseases surveillance and intervention, food safety regulation, environmental health, emergency medical services licensing, vital records administration (including birth and death records), rural healthcare provider recruitment, laboratory services, and bioterrorism preparedness. They also record and compile health statistics, so we have some historical context for what makes us sick or unwell.

Public health programs and services promote healthy lifestyles and prevention activities while monitoring and intervening in disease transmission and health risks as a safeguard for Idahoans. Public health activities largely go unnoticed until there is a crisis like this COVID-19 pandemic.

I am very proud of the work we are doing at the state and local levels to help keep Idaho healthy and safe, for both COVID-19 response and non-COVID activities.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, state and local public health have been working collaboratively to respond. Public health at the state level works with and supports the locals as they manage the pandemic response. When the state issues guidelines and protocols, they have been developed in close coordination with the health districts.

Continue reading “Public Health staff, programs work hard to keep Idahoans safe and healthy. We need your support during COVID-19.”

DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: Let’s All Do Our Part to Keep Idaho Open

Yesterday, Gov. Brad Little announced that Idaho will enter Stage 4 of the Idaho Rebounds Plan to safely and responsibly open the economy in stages. However, it’s important to note that Idaho barely met the criteria established by our state’s public health team, so it is more important than ever to follow recommended precautions so we can keep Idaho open.

  • 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.

On Saturday, 100 percent of businesses will be able to open their doors as we enter Stage 4 of our Idaho Rebounds plan. That means:

  • Visits to senior living facilities and other congregate facilities can resume, under strict protocols to protect residents and workers.
  • Nightclubs may operate with precautionary measures in place.
  • Large venues such as sporting events can operate under protocols, including physical distancing.
  • Employers can resume unrestricted staffing but should continue to practice physical distancing and sanitation, including the use of teleworking where practical. Special accommodations for individuals at higher risk for severe illness should be made.
  • Travel can continue to locations that have no ongoing virus transmission.
  • Gatherings of any size can occur as long as physical distancing and precautionary measures can occur.
Continue reading “DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: Let’s All Do Our Part to Keep Idaho Open”

Idaho public health officials work closely with long-term care facilities to help slow the spread of COVID-19

Like other states around the country, Idaho has unfortunately had cases and deaths related to COVID-19 in long-term care facilities since the start of the pandemic in Idaho in mid-March.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is particularly dangerous for the vulnerable residents of those facilities, which include skilled nursing homes, assisted living and memory care, and intermediate care facilities. Idaho has about 400 of those facilities.

Public health officials at the state and local public health districts continue to work closely with long-term care facilities throughout the state to make sure they have access to testing, personal protective equipment (PPE), and the latest guidance for how to slow or stop transmission of COVID-19 for these highly vulnerable people. Much of this guidance has been posted at https://coronavirus.idaho.gov/ltc/.

But it has been challenging. The virus that causes COVID-19 is new, and the world is still learning how to treat and contain it. It is such a contagious virus that it can spread easily among vulnerable residents in congregate living facilities. A confirmed COVID-positive resident in a facility is not necessarily a reflection of the quality of care or the performance of that facility.

Continue reading “Idaho public health officials work closely with long-term care facilities to help slow the spread of COVID-19”

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”