Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2

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Teton County has officially set a new record for active coronavirus cases, according to the JHCovid.com dashboard.

For the most part, the number of active cases has steadily climbed since Sept. 4, when it was at a nadir of 18. Earlier this week, Teton County public health coordinator Rachael Wheeler said the driving force behind the rise was "COVID fatigue," a carelessness about virus precautions born from exhaustion.

The spike in cases has caused Teton County's 7-day rolling average of new daily cases per 100,000 people to jump to 36.5 as of Friday morning. The Harvard Global Health Institute, which tracks the metric for every county in the United States, now lists Teton County as being in the "red zone."

That designation, the institute says, means economic lockdown measures should be put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19. Teton County spent a good chunk of the summer in the red zone, however, and did not revert to the kind of restrictions seen in the early days of the pandemic, instead opting for the face covering order that has been in place since July.

As of Friday morning, five people were in the St. John's Health primary care unit with complications from COVID-19. At least two are Living Center residents diagnosed with the disease earlier this week and moved out of the nursing home as a precaution. None are on ventilators.

The pandemic has also created complications regionally. Eastern Idaho Public Health reported Thursday evening that Teton County, Idaho, saw its first death from COVID-19 in a woman in her nineties. Older people are at significantly higher risk for a severe case or fatality related to the disease.

What's more, the Idaho Falls Post Register reported Thursday that high numbers of COVID-19 patients were straining hospital resources in eastern Idaho.

Though beds are only about half full at Idaho Falls hospitals, because coronavirus patients require more nurses than people with other ailments, facilities like Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center (which takes transfer patients from Jackson) are struggling to maintain appropriate staffing levels.

On the national level, President Donald Trump has tested positive for the virus. The 74-year-old Republican is in the higher-risk age demographic, though The New York Times reported that so far he has experienced only mild symptoms.

His wife, first lady Melania Trump, also tested positive. The couple will quarantine for an unspecified amount of time, throwing a wrench in the president's re-election campaign, which has relied on outdoor rallies to connect with voters. 

Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-7079 or thallberg@jhnewsandguide.com.

Tom Hallberg covers a little bit of everything, from skiing to long-form feature stories. A Teton Valley, Idaho, transplant by way of Portland and Bend, Oregon, he spends his time outside work writing fiction, splitboarding and climbing.

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