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The COVID-19 coronavirus has claimed two more Idaho County citizens according to new listings the local public health district made last week. Four covid deaths have been listed here so far: two men in their 70s, a man in his 80s and a woman in her 90s.

In its weekly update last Friday, Nov. 13, the health district maintained a green (“minimal risk”) rating for three of the five counties in its jurisdiction, with Latah and Nez Perce marked yellow (“moderate risk”) on account of high counts of both new known cases and ongoing hospitalizations. Idaho, Lewis and Clearwater counties remained green despite similar indicators.

So far, the district has noted 35 covid-related deaths across the region, with eight of those stemming from cases documented by the public health system since Oct. 1.

Meanwhile, as of Nov. 13, 249 covid-related deaths had been documented statewide in Idaho since Oct. 1.

With 749 covid-related deaths listed in Idaho among approximately 242,000 nationwide from the outbreak to last Friday, Gov. Brad Little tapped the National Guard and reinstated some of the tighter statewide restrictions he set out under a four-stage reopening plan earlier this year. Based on public health metrics, the state had loosened restrictions during the summer, allowing large outdoor gatherings such as the White Bird Rodeo and Grangeville Border Days to proceed with precautions in place for social distancing, sanitation and so forth.

This looser set of restrictions – known as Stage 4 in the reopening plan, which is detailed at rebound.idaho.gov – was tightened to Stage 3 on Oct. 26, when Little announced that “healthcare facilities throughout the state face alarming demand and capacity constraints due to increasing COVID-19 spread.”

On Friday, Nov. 13, Little announced further tightening by way of a return to Stage 2, under which public and private gatherings are limited to 10 people, masks are required at long-term care facilities and dining at restaurants and bars is limited to seated guests.

Little’s health order cited a figure from the White House Coronavirus Task Force that illuminated the then-current size of the burden on Idaho’s health care system: “44 patients with confirmed COVID-19 and seven with suspected COVID-19 were reported as newly admitted each day to hospitals in Idaho.”

In his separate Nov. 13 order tapping the National Guard, Gov. Little noted that some hospitals have reduced operations to protect their staff and others, “including the Veterans Affairs Medical Center are at or nearing capacity.”

“Due to the increase in COVID-19 patients, hospitals have had to divert patients to other hospitals within the state and, in some instances, to neighboring states,” Little’s executive order continued. “Hospitals in surrounding states are also experiencing a surge of COVID-19 and may not be able to receive Idaho patients.”

This order activated 100 guardsmen to help with work in the health care system such as “mobile testing support, medical facility decontamination, or COVID-19 screenings, in addition to ongoing planning and logistics support.”

As of Monday afternoon, Nov. 16, the health district had listed 543 known covid cases in Idaho County, of which it listed 328 recovered and 211 still open. Idaho’s coronavirus.idaho.gov website listed 1,099 new cases, 83,344 total cases and 763 deaths statewide.

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