PAYETTE COUNTY — While Payette County officials acknowledge that the concept of “COVID burnout” is real, they also acknowledge that the Delta variant of COVID-19 remains a force to be reckoned with.
On the agenda for Monday’s Payette County Board of Commissioners meeting is the potential re-issuance of a disaster declaration for the County. Emergency Manager Adam Gonzalez told the newspaper in an interview Thursday he wants the public to understand that this declaration is just that, and not a call for restrictions.
“With the influx of COVID-19, we’re starting to do a lot more and it’s a lot outside of our normal practice and work. And that obviously brings an additional cost to the county and could potentially have a need for additional resources to the county,” said Gonzalez in an interview Thursday. “In order for us to position ]ourselves] in a way to get those resources and funding from the state and from [the Federal Emergency Management Agency], we have to be under that emergency declaration.”
Gonzalez cited the latest executive briefing by the county Emergency Coordination Center. As of Monday, Aug. 23, the county has a test positivity rate of 12.21%, up from 9.29% on Aug. 16. The daily incidence rate is 2.86, up from 2.12. The current case count is 2,932, with 2,269 confirmed by Southwest District Health as of Friday.
While both numbers remain lower than those of Dec. 28, 2020 (19.83%, 5.61 and 2,006 cases, respectively), Gonzalez anticipates the potential for those numbers to continue climbing.
“We’re starting to climb in that direction and … the trajectory is pretty similar to what we saw in December.”
Regarding COVID burnout, Gonzalez tells readers he feels their pain.
“I get it; It’s been on our plate for a long time, and it’s affected a lot of our work, a lot of our personal lives. The best I can say is listen to the advice of local health officials,It’s easy to get lost in the news and lost in the discussions at [the Centers for Disease Control] but what’s really applicable is the stuff that Southwest District Health tells us,” as well as what the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare says, he said. “They’re aware of our situation, specifically, and what different things we should be paying attention to.”
However, according to Gonzalez, this doesn’t necessarily mean any lockdowns, mandatory masking or other forcible measures would be taken. He said he doesn’t anticipate any mask or distancing requirements coming forward.
“We just encourage people to make their decisions correctly, based on the advice of local public health.”
The declaration will be discussed during the commissioners’ regular meeting on Monday. The discussion for this item is listed on the meeting agenda as scheduled for 11:15 a.m., but the time is subject to change without notice.
Also scheduled is Idaho Office of Emergency Management director Brad Richy, who will address the commissioners at 11:30 a.m. according to the agenda.