PAYETTE — While COVID-19 has largely held the world’s attention for the last year-and-a-half, the Payette County Office of Emergency Management appears to be moving beyond the pandemic. Upon giving his latest update to the Payette County Board of Commissioners, emergency manager Adam Gonzalez indicated the county is ready to leave its declaration of emergency behind.
“We really haven’t seen any big increase here locally,” Gonzalez told commissioners. “If the health alert levels were here, we would be in [gray]. And it looks like it’s becoming a trend.”
Following are excerpts from Gonzalez’ report, dated June 7:
• The total number of cases reported for Payette County by Southwest District Health is 2,600.The confirmed number of cases was 2,043.
• The total number of COVID-19 deaths countywide is 37, unchanged over the previous week
• The test positivity rate shrank from 6.09% the week prior to 3.38% this week.
• The countywide daily incidence rate went from 1.22 per 10,000 the previous week to 0.48 this week.
• In Payette County, the 70-79 age group has the highest vaccination rate at 69.6% having had at least one dose.
“It’s almost like a trickle-down effect of the age groups,” said Gonzalez, noting that vaccination rates are consistently lower among younger age groups. He noted that Snake River Pediatrics has readily available supplies of Pfizer vaccine for kids ages 12 and older.
• Vaccinations countywide peaked in early April, with as many as 847 residents getting a dose in one week. That weekly number has since gone down to 187 for the week of May 16.
• No new outbreaks were reported last week in long-term care facilities countywide
Gonzalez also reported the present situation at surrounding driver license offices. According to the report, Washington County allows one person in per clerk at a time and has customers take a number and wait outside the building. No such system is in use in Payette County, as reported by Sheriff Andy Creech in April.
Gonzalez also noted that the Idaho Supreme Court issued an order dated May 20 which states masks are no longer required in courthouses, leaving the decision of whether to enforce masks to individual judges. County clerk Lindsey Bratcher said county magistrates have not been requiring masks, but noted that some attendance limits are still in place for court cases.
The county’s latest declaration, dated Dec. 28, 2020, is set to expire on June 28. Gonzalez recommended in his report that commissioners simply let it expire, saying it wasn’t needed anymore.
“I do less and less with COVID every week,” he said, noting that his office is re-focusing on finalizing expense paperwork for Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursement.
Also, Gonzalez consulted with commissioners to determine how frequently future updates should be given. Together Gonzalez and the board determined that such reports would be continued quarterly and on an as-needed basis, including if any significant increases in COVID-19 incidence occur.
“We’ll still monitor and still be able to pass information, but at this point it’s not any more than it would be for any other situation,” he said.
Idaho remains in stage four of Gov. Brad Little’s “Stay Healthy” order. The order includes these protocols to be observed:
• Face coverings are required at long-term care facilities
• No recommended limitations on gathering sizes
• Face coverings are recommended per Centers for Disease Control guidance
• All individuals should adhere to physical distancing and sanitation guidelines
• Ensure employees and customers maintain at least 6’ physical distancing whenever possible