‘Social gatherings’ behind rise in coronavirus cases in part of Idaho, officials say

“Social gatherings” are behind a recent rise of coronavirus cases in at least one part of Idaho, health officials in the Gem State said this week.

Officials with Southeastern Idaho Public Health on Wednesday cautioned residents to be careful when gathering with friends and family outside of their immediate households, especially as the number of people who are permitted to gather together at once has recently increased.

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“Social gatherings are a common denominator in the rise of cases of COVID-19 in southeast Idaho,” officials said in a news release. “With Idaho moving through the stages of reopening, numbers permissible to gather have increased to 10 – 50 people. However, gatherings must be done safely and that means keeping at least 6 feet apart and utilizing other precautionary measures like wearing a cloth face covering and providing opportunities for good hand hygiene.”

The news comes as at least 14 of the 44 recently confirmed COVID-19 cases across the state’s seven health districts were reported by the Southeastern and Eastern Idaho health districts, according to the Idaho Statesman, which noted that up until this point had been two of the least impacted districts.

“Whenever you get together with those outside of your household there is the potential risk of spreading COVID-19,” said Maggie Mann, Southeastern Idaho Public Health (SIPH) director, in a statement. “Practicing physical distancing and wearing a cloth face covering is the new normal and should be practiced even as restrictions in Idaho move through the stages of reopening.”

“As long as there are asymptomatic people in our communities, spread to others will continue to occur,” added Mann. “Asymptomatic individuals can worsen the spread and infection rate of COVID-19 now, considering that Idaho has begun to reopen most of its economy.”

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Health officials also warned that COVID-19 is “two to three times more contagious than flu, which means the virus can spread rapidly from person to person.”

Overall, the state has reported more than 2,900 cases of the novel virus to date, according to official estimates.

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