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COVID-19, where things stand: With stage 4 starting, numbers edge up, officials warn of bar “cluster”

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COVID-19 Idaho

Yesterday, Gov. Brad Little announced Idaho would move to stage four of the state’s reopening plan. In a news release later in the day, Boise’s mayor said the city would do the same.

Then, a news item broke late in the day that caused concern: Central District Health Department warned of “possible COVID-19 exposure at multiple Downtown Boise bars on June 5 and 6.”

The health department called it a “cluster,” and said five people tested positive, with another probable cases (those who had close contact with those infected but aren’t given tests.)

Officials said anyone who visited Amsterdam Lounge, Cactus Bar, Humpin’ Hannah’s, Silly Birch, StrangeLove or Tom Grainey’s on June 5th or 6th should watch for symptoms – which could occur two to 14 days after exposure.

“As Idaho continues to reopen, illness clusters like this one are a reminder that COVID-19 is still very present in our communities,” CDHD Director Russ Duke said. “It is especially important that we find our new normal, which needs to include wearing face coverings especially in situations where sufficient physical distancing isn’t possible, and continuing to look for ways to limit face-to-face exposure.”

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A photo from KBOI-TV journalist Deni Hawkins, taken on May 31st, a few days before the exposures, showed one of the bars in question packed with patrons with little apparent social distancing.

The data

While a cluster of cases will always cause concern and catch headlines, the data shows the number of cases remains low in Boise, with some increases.

The Boise-area has seen an uptick in cases, and the 7-day moving average has started to trend up to its highest level since early-May, according to data compiled by the New York Times.

Over the last two weeks, there have been .15 cases per 1,000 residents. Said another way, that’s 15 cases per 100,000 people. The Boise area remains ranked near the bottom nationally in terms of new cases over the last two weeks, at 466th.

The last death in the Boise metro area was on May 19th.

Statewide, the case trend remains well below the rates seen in May — and significantly below the rates in March when the pandemic first broke into the state.

Stage four starts tomorrow.

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Don Day
Don is the founder and editor of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow.

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