Panhandle Health District 800-878-2364

Coronavirus

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Informational Hotline: 877-415-5225

  • Total Cases: 3,432
  • New Cases Today: 61
  • Deaths: 56
  • Currently Hospitalized: 25
  • Hospitalizations: 206***
Numbers updated 09/28/2020

(This data will be updated Mon-Fri at or prior to 5pm)

***Hospitalizations is a tally of total hospitalizations of confirmed cases. This does not mean these patients are currently hospitalized, only that they were hospitalized for COVID-19 and are also confirmed positive with COVID-19.

County Risk Level For Schools & Businesses

Kootenai County

Benewah County

Bonner County

Boundary County

Shoshone County

Categories are determined based on the metrics outlined in the PHD COVID-19 Risk Levels by County document linked to the left. These categories are recommendations only and final decisions are made by local school boards. Private and charter schools should use the category based on the address of their facility and associated school district boundary. These are weekly assessments of community spread and will updated on Thursdays. If category designations are adjusted then schools and families should expect transition time as changes may or may not be immediate.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) History/Symptoms

Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a virus strain that was first detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in December 2019. The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in the United States on Jan. 22, in Snohomish County, Wash.

To minimize the risk of spread, health officials in Idaho and throughout the United States are working with healthcare providers to quickly identify and evaluate suspected cases.

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness.

These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or  difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms. We will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19.

Currently, there are no vaccines available to prevent novel coronavirus infections.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are antibody (serological) tests?

A: Serological tests detect antibodies in the blood generated during the immune response to a specific infection, such as COVID-19. They are different from tests such as PCR that detect the virus that causes COVID-19. Many new serological tests for COVID-19 have been developed; however to date only four have been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Some companies are falsely claiming their serological tests have been approved by the FDA or that they can diagnose COVID-19 infections. The Idaho Division of Public Health discourages the use of unauthorized serology-based assays for diagnosis of COVID-19 or determining someone’s infectious or immune status. Rapid serological tests are not recommended for COVID-19 diagnosis. They detect antibodies generated over time as the body responds to an infection, typically in the second week after a person develops symptoms. People in the early stages of COVID-19 might test negative despite being highly infectious. Additionally, some tests might give a false positive result because of past or present infection with other types of coronaviruses. False positive results are also more likely when the percentage of the population with the disease is low. The Idaho Division of Public Health discourages persons who have a positive serology test from relaxing the precautions such as social distancing that are recommended for all Idahoans to prevent spread of coronavirus, and strongly discourages employers form relaxing the employee protections for an employee solely based upon a positive serology test. The immune response to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) infection is not well understood. It is not known whether the antibodies detected by serological assays provide immunity to reinfection.

 

Q: What is the difference between IgM and IgG? What does it mean if I am positive for one but not for the other?

A: IgM antibodies are produced in the early stages of an infection, whereas IgG antibodies generally do not begin to appear until 7 to 10 days after infection. Testing positive for IgM only, or both IgM and IgG suggests you might have a current or recent infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Testing positive for IgG only suggests that you might have had a previous or recent infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

 

Q: If a person’s blood sample tests negative using a serological test, does that mean that the person does not have COVID-19?

A: Not necessarily. The person might be in the early stages of COVID-19 infection and has not developed enough antibodies to be detected by a serological test. Results from antibody testing alone are not enough to determine whether someone is infected with SARS-CoV-2. If a person’s blood sample tests positive using a serological test, does this mean that this person is immune to COVID-19? We do not know yet whether people who test positive by a serological test are immune to COVID-19.

 

Q: I was tested and told I have antibodies to COVID-19. How long will they last?

A: It is not known how long antibodies will last following COVID-19 infection.

 

Q: How do we know if someone who had COVID-19 is still infectious?

A: Antibody tests do not tell us whether a person is infectious. The CDC has issued symptom-based guidance for determining when a person with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 can be released from isolation, meaning that they are no longer considered infectious. These criteria are as follows: at least 10 days after illness onset, no fever, and symptoms have improved for 72 hours.

 

Q: What does it mean if I test positive for COVID-19 using a serological test?

A: A positive serology test means that you might have antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19, indicating that you were infected by the virus that COVID-19 in the past or might be currently infected, depending on the type of antibodies detected. However, there may be a significant chance that a test can give the wrong result, called a false positive, because of cross-reacting antibodies from previous infections such as those caused by other human coronaviruses.

 

Q: Is it safe to take care of my elderly parents without wearing a mask or face covering?

A: A test for antibodies does not tell you whether you currently have the COVID-19 virus. Cloth masks and face coverings are recommended to reduce the risk of potential spread to others.

 

Q: Will DHW or the local public health districts be issuing immunity passports?

A: No. Currently, there is no way to tell whether someone is immune to COVID-19. It is not known whether people who have recovered from COVID-19 are immune from reinfection.

 

Q: If I test positive on an antibody test, do I still need to get vaccinated when a vaccine is available?

A: It is not known whether antibodies detected using serology tests protect against future COVID-19 infections or for how long that protection might last. Guidance on who should get vaccinated will be provided when there is a licensed COVID-19 vaccine available as this will depend on several factors such as the type of vaccine.

 

Q: Where can I donate my plasma so other people can benefit from my antibodies?

A: The Red Cross has partnered with the FDA to identify eligible people who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate plasma. See the Red Cross website for more information: https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/dlp/plasma-donations-from-recovered-covid-19patients.html. Vitalant is collecting plasma from people who have recovered from coronavirus to help COVID-19 patients. Vitalant does NOT test for COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2 or any antibodies to the infection. Do not donate blood if you are sick.

Q: Why is it difficult to determine an individual’s primary county of residence?

A: Once we receive notification of a confirmed case from a lab, we connect with that individual to verify their information. This can be difficult for a variety of reasons. Contact tracing is voluntary and we rely on an individual’s willingness to participate. Information provided may be incomplete, incorrect, or not provided at all. Those experiencing homelessness or are in a transient living situation are other possible reasons it may take longer to determine a primary county of residence.

We are working diligently to gather complete and accurate information and when we have it we will release it.

 

Q: Why don’t we release more information on locations and whereabouts of confirmed cases?

A: Beyond the legal reasons why this is not best practice, there are a couple other reasons why we do not make public announcements of the travel/whereabouts of every infected individual. One, we know COIVD-19 spreads through close contact (within 6 feet) of 10 minutes or more. Contracting COVID-19 by passing someone in the grocery store, will likely not spread the infection. Two, making announcements of all the locations a positive COVID-19 client has been would cause undue panic and anxiety that could lead to a massive and unnecessary strain on our health care system.

 

Q: Can we release the confirmed cases by city instead of county?

A: We urge everyone to take the proper precautions and follow the guidance that the Governor stated in his order, CDC guidance, and guidance we have continued to reiterate. Naming a city will not change our guidance or the potential risk now that we have community spread in Kootenai, Benewah, and Bonner Counties. A virus doesn’t care about city lines or borders, it just wants a host.

Q: What does ‘no longer being monitored’ mean? Why aren’t they ‘recovered’?

A: We don’t use the term “recovered” as that could be misleading because we don’t know at this time if a person can contract COVID-19 more than once. We instead use the term “no longer monitoring”. A person is no longer being monitored when they have stayed home for our recommended period of time and they meet the following conditions:

    • You have had no fever for at least 24 hours (that is one full day of no fever without the use medicine that reduces fevers)
      AND
    • other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath have improved)
      AND
    • at least 10 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared

Q: What is 2019 Novel Coronavirus?

A: The 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19), is not that same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold. As of February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, COVID-19.

 

Q: What do I do if I get sick?

A: Stay home. Avoid contact with others.

  • Refer to CDC “Steps to Help Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 if you are Sick”

If you are at higher risk of getting very sick, you should:

  • Stay home if possible.
  • Wash your hands
  • Avoid close contact (6 feet, which is about two arm lengths) with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Avoid all cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
  • Call your healthcare professional if you have concerns about COVID-19 and your underlying condition or if you are sick.

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include*:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

 

Q: What are the symptoms and can someone spread the virus without having symptoms?

A: People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms. We will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19.

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
  • Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.

Q: How does the virus spread?

A: The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person, mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).

COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in many affected geographic areas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

 

Q: Is COVID-19 airborne?

A: The virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. These droplets are too heavy to hang in the air. They quickly fall on floors or surfaces. 

You can be infected by breathing in the virus if you are within 1 meter of a person who has COVID-19, or by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth before washing your hands

Q: Can the virus be spread through food, including refrigerated or frozen food?

A: Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. Before preparing or eating food it is important to always wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds for general food safety. Throughout the day wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, or going to the bathroom.

In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient, refrigerated, or frozen temperatures.

 

Q: How easily does the virus spread?

A: How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious, like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, which means it goes from person-to-person without stopping.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading very easily and sustainably between people. Information from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic suggest that this virus is spreading more efficiently than influenza, but not as efficiently as measles, which is highly contagious.

 

Q: When to end home isolation (staying home)?

A: People with COVID-19 who have stayed home (are home isolated) can stop home isolation under the following conditions:

    • They have had no fever for at least 24 hours (that is two full days of no fever without the use medicine that reduces fevers)
      AND
    • other symptoms have improved (for example, when their cough or shortness of breath have improved)
      AND
    • at least 10 days have passed since their symptoms first appeared

Q: Should I wear a mask?

A: CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.

Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

 

Q: Do I still need to stay 6 feet away from someone if I’m wearing a cloth face covering?

A: Yes. Wearing cloth face coverings is an additional public health measure people should take to reduce the spread of COVID-19. CDC still recommends that you stay at least 6 feet away from other people (social distancing), frequent hand cleaning and other everyday preventive actions. A cloth face covering is not intended to protect the wearer, but it may prevent the spread of virus from the wearer to others. This would be especially important if someone is infected but does not have symptoms.

 

Q: What type of cloth should I use to make a cloth face covering?

A: Use tightly woven cotton, such as quilting fabric or cotton sheets. T-shirt fabric will work or a bandanna. The CDC has tutorials on their website on how to make cloth face coverings.

 

Q: How do I clean my cloth face covering?

A: Face coverings should be washed routinely depending on the frequency of use. A washing machine and machine dryer will suffice in properly cleaning the face covering. Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth when removing your face covering and wash your hands immediately after handling.

 

Q: What are best practices to protect myself?

A: Remember to take everyday preventive actions that are always recommended to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:

    • Get a flu vaccine. There is no vaccine yet for 2019-nCoV, but a flu shot will protect you from the flu and possibly other respiratory illnesses.
    • Stay home if you are sick and avoid close contact with sick people.
    • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible.
    • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
    • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects.
    • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60% alcohol.

 

Q: What can I use to clean and disinfect my home?

A: For disinfection, diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.

Diluted household bleach solutions can be used if appropriate for the surface. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.

  • Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:
    • 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water or
    • 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water

*Primary Care Providers or PHD Clinic staff orders are needed to be tested!*

Q: What is the criteria to be tested through PHD?

A: PHD is only writing COVID-19 test orders to individuals who are uninsured and do not have a primary care provider.

 

Q: How will I find my COVID-19 test results?

A: Your provider will notify you of your results.

Currently, any patient with a positive test result for COVID-19 will be contacted by local public health and advised on monitoring and movement restrictions after they have been notified by the provider of their result.

 

Q: What do I do if I’ve been tested, but haven’t heard my results?

A: Stay home! We urge anyone who has been tested and is awaiting their results to self-isolate at home. The provider who wrote the order will contact you with your results.

 

Q: Where can I find out the number of people being tested in Idaho?

A: The state of Idaho is posting updates on their site with the number of people tested  in Idaho through the Idaho Bureau of Laboratories and private labs. The link is coronavirus.idaho.gov.  The state has also broken out the amount of testing done in each district by date. Results from the most recent week of testing may not be reflected on the state’s site yet. Labs are required by law to report positive cases. Negative results are reported voluntarily by laboratories.

 

Q: What’s going on at 2207 Ironwood Place across the street from Kootenai Health?

A: Kootenai Clinic has opened a specimen collection site located at 2207 Ironwood in CDA, for suspected COVID-19 infections and flu. Physicians will use an algorithm provided by Kootenai Health to determine whether an individual should be tested at this location. The purpose of the special collection site is to safely collect appropriate samples from patients suspected of these respiratory ailments by staff in full protective cover.

 

Q: Can COVID-19 be prevented or treated?

A: There are currently no vaccines or drugs approved to treat or prevent COVID-19. Although there are investigational COVID-19 vaccines and treatments under development, these investigational products are in the early stages of product development and have not yet been fully tested for safety or effectiveness.

The FDA reminds consumers to be cautious of websites and stores selling products that claim to prevent, mitigate, treat, diagnose or cure COVID-19. Fraudulent COVID-19 products may come in many varieties, including dietary supplements and other foods, as well as products purporting to be drugs, medical devices or vaccines. Products that claim to cure, mitigate, treat, diagnose or prevent disease, but are not proven safe and effective for those purposes, defraud consumers of money and can place consumers at risk for serious harm. Using these products may lead to delays in getting proper diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 and other potentially serious diseases and conditions.money and can place consumers at risk for serious harm. Using these products may lead to delays in getting proper diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 and other potentially serious diseases and conditions.

 

For a complete list of CDC Frequently Asked Questions, visit:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html

For up-to-date information on COVID-19 in Idaho, visit:

www.healthandwelfare.idaho.gov

Panhandle Health District has information on COVID-19 and resources for the community, visit:
www.panhandlehealthdistrict.org/covid-19/