Panhandle Health District 800-878-2364


Coronavirus (COVID-19) Informational Hotline: 877-415-5225. Email for COVID-19 Test Orders:

  • Total Cases: 23,231
  • New Cases Today : 33
  • Deaths: 293
  • Currently Hospitalized: 37
  • Hospitalizations: 1,171*
  • Closed Cases: 21,570**
Numbers updated 04/16/2021

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

*Hospitalized and Hospitalizations include residents of Health District 1 (5 northern counties) that are hospitalized or have been hospitalized anywhere, including out of state. 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. **Closed cases include those who are No longer monitored, Refused Monitoring, Individuals who we were unable to reach, or are Deceased. Active cases are those who are actively being monitored by the health district in order to monitor their symptoms and advise when they should leave isolation and can be around others. A person is no longer being monitored when they have stayed home for our recommended period of time AND have not had a 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.

County Risk Level For Schools & Businesses: Updated at 8:15am on 4/15/21

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. I have a medical condition –how will I know if the vaccine is safe for me?
A. You should discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider to determine what is best for you. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers clinical guidance on the first (Pfizer) vaccine

Q: How many vaccines have been administered?
In Idaho, the number of vaccine doses that have been administered is reported at coronavirus.idaho.go

Q: I’m a provider and would like to receive the vaccine to administer to my patients. How do I receive the vaccine?
The CDC has a provider vaccination enrollment program. Any Idaho facility, organization, or healthcare provider licensed to possess or administer vaccine or provide vaccination services is eligible to enroll. The enrollment process consists of completion of the CDC’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program Provider Agreement, Supplemental COVID-19 Vaccine Redistribution Agreement, and completing provider training. Information can be found through the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s website:

Q. When can my organization enroll in the COVID-19 Vaccination Program in Idaho?
A. Idaho will be recruiting and enrolling COVID-19 vaccinators based on priority populations, access, capacity, and geographic location. Idaho plans to enroll organizations prior to vaccine availability, based on each organization’s COVID-19 vaccination phase, capacity, and needs. Idaho will use available data to recruit organizations to ensure equitable vaccine access throughout the state in accordance with guidance from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and Idaho’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee (CVAC).

The organization types listed below represent a proposed initial phased COVID-19 vaccine provider recruitment plan. This information will be updated throughout the vaccination campaign as needed:

Q. How will vaccine safety be monitored?
CDC continuously monitors the safety of vaccines given in the United States. The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), co-administered by the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration, is the national frontline monitoring system for vaccine safety. VAERS is a national early warning system to detect possible safety problems with vaccines. Anyone – a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or any member of the general public – can submit a report to VAERS. COVID-19 Vaccine Providers are required to report adverse events to VAERS.

Q. What is v-safe?
A. v-safe is a new smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to check-in with vaccinated individuals for adverse events after a COVID-19 vaccination. v-safe will also provide second-dose reminders (if needed) and live telephone follow up by the CDC if vaccinated individuals report a medically significant event during a v-safe check-in. Enrollment is voluntary.

Q: Am I protected from infection immediately after receiving the vaccine?
Protection from Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is not immediate; the vaccine is a 2-dose series and it takes 1 to 2 weeks following the second dose before a person is considered fully vaccinated. Because the median incubation period of SARS-CoV2 is 4–5 days, current evidence suggests that vaccination of persons following a known SARS-CoV-2 exposure is unlikely to be an effective strategy for preventing disease from that particular exposure.

Thus, persons in the community or outpatient setting who have had a known COVID-19 exposure should not seek vaccination until their quarantine period has ended to avoid potentially exposing healthcare personnel and other persons to SARS-CoV-2 during the vaccination visit.

Q: How does the ACIP define ‘healthcare personnel’?
A: Health care personnel are defined as paid or unpaid persons serving in health care settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials.

Q: How does the ACIP define ‘residents of long-term care facilities’?
A: Long-term care facility residents are defined as adults who reside in facilities that provide a variety of services, including medical and personal care, to person who are unable to live independently.

Q: Will children receive the vaccine?
A: The Pfizer vaccine is only recommended for those 16 years old and older. The Moderna vaccine is recommended for those 18 years old and older.

Q: Can the COVID-19 vaccine give me COVID-19?
A: None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19. There are several different types of vaccines in development. However, the goal for each of them is to teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity.

Q: Will I test positive for COVID-19 after getting the COVID-19 vaccine?
A: Vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States won’t cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection.

If your body develops an immune response, which is the goal of vaccination, there is a possibility you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.

Q: Do I still need to get the COVID-19 vaccine if I’ve already had COVID?
A: Yes. Data from phase 2/3 clinical trials suggest that Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is safe and likely efficacious in persons with evidence of a prior SARS-CoV-2 infection. Vaccination should be offered to persons regardless of history of prior symptomatic or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection.

At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. Some early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long.

Q: Can’t we build natural immunity against COVID-19?
A: Getting COVID-19 may offer some natural protection, known as immunity. But experts don’t know how long this protection lasts, and the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 far outweighs any benefits of natural immunity. COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you by creating an antibody response without having to experience sickness.

Both natural immunity and immunity produced by a vaccine are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about, and CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.

Q: How many shots of COVID-19 vaccine will be needed?
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses.

Q: Do I need to wear a mask and avoid close contact with others if I have received 2 doses of the vaccine?
Yes. While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to us to help stop this pandemic, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often, and staying at least 6 feet away from others. Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide before deciding to change recommendations on steps everyone should take to slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities, will also affect this decision.

Q: I am concerned there may be side effects to a vaccine or that I even might catch COVID-19 due to the vaccine itself. Is that a possible outcome?
A. Based on available data, COVID-19 vaccination is expected to elicit general post-vaccination symptoms, such as fever, headache, and body aches. The incidence and timing of post-vaccination symptoms will be further informed by phase III clinical trial data.

For example, these types of symptoms are also common for influenza vaccine. You may hear people state they “got the flu from the flu vaccine.” However, the flu vaccine is given during a time of year when upper respiratory infections are more common and getting a bad cold or upper respiratory infection around the time of receiving a flu shot is likely.

All of the vaccines in clinical trials in the U.S. do not contain live viruses, and so would be unable to cause COVID-19 in a vaccine recipient.

Q. Are there side effects to the Moderna vaccine?
A. Adverse reactions reported in a clinical trial following administration of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine include pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, joint pain, chills, nausea/vomiting, lymph node swelling/tenderness, fever, swelling at the injection site, and redness at the injection site.

Q. Is it true that an ingredient in this vaccine can cause infertility?
A. There isn’t any evidence from trials of the Pfizer vaccine that it affects fertility. As the vaccine stimulates an immune response to the spike protein, if it did affect fertility we might also expect to see Covid-19 infections affecting this too, as the body should produce a similar immune response if infected. But we don’t.

Q. How much will the vaccine cost?
A. As a condition of receiving free COVID-19 vaccines from the federal government, providers will be prohibited from charging consumers for administration of the vaccine. To ensure broad and consistent coverage across programs and payers, the toolkits have specific information for several programs, including:

Medicare: Beneficiaries with Medicare pay nothing for COVID-19 vaccines and their copayment/coinsurance and deductible are waived.

Medicare Advantage (MA): For calendar years 2020 and 2021, Medicare will pay directly for the COVID-19 vaccine and its administration for beneficiaries enrolled in MA plans. MA plans would not be responsible for reimbursing providers to administer the vaccine during this time.   Medicare Advantage beneficiaries also pay nothing for COVID-19 vaccines and their copayment/coinsurance and deductible are waived.

Medicaid: State Medicaid and CHIP agencies must provide vaccine administration with no cost sharing for most beneficiaries during the public health emergency.  Following the public health emergency, depending on the population, states may have to evaluate cost sharing policies and may have to submit state plan amendments if updates are needed.

Private Plans: CMS, along with the Departments of Labor and the Treasury, is requiring that most private health plans and issuers cover a recommended COVID-19 vaccine and its administration, both in-network and out-of-network, with no cost sharing. The rule also provides that out-of-network rates cannot be unreasonably low, and references CMS’s reimbursement rates as a potential guideline for insurance companies.

Uninsured: For individuals who are uninsured, providers will be able to be reimbursed for administering the COVID-19 vaccine to individuals without insurance through the Provider Relief Fund, administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

Q: Can the COVID-19 vaccine change my DNA?
The COVID-19 vaccine’s currently seeking authorization are mRNA vaccines. They do not affect or interact with our DNA in any way.

  • mRNA never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA (genetic material) is kept.
  • The cell breaks down and gets rid of the mRNA soon after it is finished using the instructions.

Q: Does the COVID-19 vaccine cause Bell’s Palsy?
The FDA briefing documents show that it is true that there were four cases of Bell’s Palsy among those who received the vaccine. Bell’s Palsy is a sudden weakness or freezing of muscles on one side of the face, which in most cases is temporary.

The briefing says that the frequency of Bell’s Palsy in the vaccine group is “consistent with the expected background rate in the general population”, adding there is “no clear basis upon which to conclude a causal relationship at this time”. The FDA said it would, however, recommend “surveillance” for cases of Bell’s Palsy as the vaccine is sent out to larger groups of people.

You can read the full FDA briefing here:

Q: Am I required to have a vaccination or is it optional?
A. No one is required to receive any vaccination.

Q: I had a flu vaccine. Won’t that protect me against COVID-19?
A. Influenza and the coronavirus (COVID-19) are different viruses and therefore require different vaccinations.

Q: I prefer natural or homeopathic remedies and therefore am concerned about the chemicals present in vaccines. Can they harm me?
A. It is important to remember that natural and homeopathic remedies are also chemicals, some quite powerful and not subject to regulatory oversight. It is prudent to question the ingredients in any product that enters the body. In the case of vaccines, the ingredients used to carry the active ingredients have gone through extensive testing and have been found to be safe.

Q: Is there anyone that should not receive the vaccine?
A: The Pfizer vaccine is not recommended for individuals under the age of 16 and the Moderna vaccine is not recommended for individuals under the age of 18.

There are currently no available data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, including Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, in pregnant or lactating people. However, if pregnant or lactating people are part of a group that is recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine (e.g., healthcare personnel), they may choose to be vaccinated.

Q: What is in the COVID-19 vaccine?
Each 0.3 mL dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine contains 30 mcg of a nucleosidemodified messenger RNA (modRNA) encoding the viral spike (S) glycoprotein of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Each dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine also includes the following ingredients:

  • Four different lipids
  • 0.43 mg (4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate),
  • 0.05 mg 2[(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide,
  • 0.09 mg 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3- phosphocholine, and
  • 0.2 mg cholesterol)
  • Electrolytes
  • 0.01 mg potassium chloride,
  • 0.01 mg monobasic potassium phosphate,
  • 0.36 mg sodium chloride,
  • 0.07 mg dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate, and
  • 6 mg sucrose.

Q: How cold does the Pfizer vaccine need to be?
The vaccine is shipped -70C as a frozen concentrate. The vaccine, once thawed, must be reconstituted with 1.8Ml of sterile saline (0.9% NaCl). Once reconstituted, each vial of vaccine contains 5 doses of 0.3mL of vaccine. Two doses are recommended, spaced at least 21 days apart. The vaccine has been shown in randomized trials of 44,000 persons to be safe and 95% effective.

Q: Since both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses (Pfizer 21 days apart, Moderna 28 days apart), could an individual receive one dose of Pfizer and one dose of Moderna?
That is not recommended. If you receive the Pfizer vaccine for your first dose, then you need to receive the Pfizer vaccine for your second dose. This is the same for the Moderna vaccine.

Q. Some healthcare workers in the U.K. and in Idaho have had severe reactions to the vaccine, so do we have more information about that or are we concerned?
A. There have recently been reports of people who experienced anaphylaxis after the administration of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. These reactions have been few and people were immediately treated and recovered quickly; many had a significant history of severe allergic reactions. Appropriate medical treatment for severe reactions must be immediately available at all vaccination sites. The U.S . Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) emergency use authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine includes a warning not to administer the vaccine to individuals with a known history of severe allergic reaction to any component of the Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine. Additionally, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that anyone who has had a severe allergic reaction to any vaccine or injectable therapy (intramuscular, intravenous, or subcutaneous) not receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at this time. The data from clinical trials of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine indicate there is very little risk to the vast majority of people who will receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

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: 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 ‘Closed Cases’ mean on the PHD COVID-19 webpage?
Closed cases include those who are No longer monitored, Refused Monitoring, Individuals who we were unable to reach, or are Deceased. Active cases are those who are actively being monitored by the health district in order to monitor their symptoms and advise when they should leave isolation and can be around others. A person is no longer being monitored when they have stayed home for our recommended period of time AND have not had a 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. The CDC revised their guidance on isolation and quarantine. What are the revised options?

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) have provided options to reduce the isolation period for asymptomatic close contacts of those who have tested positive for COVID-19. The 14 days of isolation is still best practice and is the safest way to avoid spreading this virus. The following are options for asymptomatic close contacts of a positive case  to shorten isolation and are acceptable alternatives to reduce the burden of isolation on individuals, families, and businesses:

  • Isolation can end after Day 10 from last close contact with the positive case without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily
  • With this strategy, residual post-isolation transmission risk is estimated to be about 1% with an upper limit of about 10%.
  • When diagnostic testing resources are sufficient and available (see bullet 3, below), then isolation can end after Day 7 if a diagnostic PCR specimen tests negative and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring. The specimen may be collected and tested within 48 hours before the time of planned isolation discontinuation (e.g., in anticipation of testing delays), but isolation cannot be discontinued earlier than after Day 7.
  • With this strategy, the residual post-isolation transmission risk is estimated to be about 5% with an upper limit of about 12%.

In both cases, additional criteria (e.g., continued symptom monitoring and masking through Day 14) must be met and are outlined in the full text found on the CDC’s website:

Regardless of what option you choose to follow, symptom monitoring, masking, hand hygiene, and physical distancing must continue through Day 14

For those following the testing strategy for isolation to end after day 7, the following criteria must be met:

  • Testing must be a molecular amplification method (e.g. RT-PCR)
  • The specimen can be collected no sooner than Day 5 of isolation
  • Isolation can end only after the negative test result is available, but no earlier than Day 7.

If at any time an individual develops symptoms during their 14 days after their exposure to an individual who tested positive, they should isolate and seek testing.

Q: Who is at highest risk of severe illness and how can I protect myself?
A: Among adults, the risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age, with older adults at highest risk.

As you get older, your risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases. For example, people in their 50s are at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 40s. Similarly, people in their 60s or 70s are, in general, at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 50s. The greatest risk for severe illness from COVID-19 is among those aged 85 or older.

People of any age with certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Severe illness from COVID-19 is defined as hospitalization, admission to the ICU, intubation or mechanical ventilation, or death.

People of any age with the following conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19:

COVID-19 is a new disease. Currently there are limited data and information about the impact of underlying medical conditions and whether they increase the risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Based on what we know at this time, people with the following conditions might be at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19:

While children have been less affected by COVID-19 compared to adults, children can be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and some children develop severe illness. Children with the following conditions might be at increased risk for severe illness: obesity, medical complexity, severe genetic disorders, severe neurologic disorders, inherited metabolic disorders, congenital (since birth) heart disease, diabetes, asthma and other chronic lung disease, and immunosuppression due to malignancy or immune-weakening medications.

Q: Can COVID-19 spread through airborne transmission?
A: Some infections can be spread by exposure to virus in small droplets and particles that can linger in the air for minutes to hours, this kind of spread is referred to as airborne transmission and is an important way that infections like tuberculosis, measles, and chicken pox are spread.

There is evidence that under certain conditions, people with COVID-19 seem to have infected others who were more than 6 feet away. These transmissions occurred within enclosed spaces that had inadequate ventilation. Sometimes the infected person was breathing heavily, for example while singing or exercising.

  • Under these circumstances, scientists believe that the amount of infectious smaller droplet and particles produced by the people with COVID-19 became concentrated enough to spread the virus to other people. The people who were infected were in the same space during the same time or shortly after the person with COVID-19 had left.

Available data indicate that it is much more common for the virus that causes COVID-19 to spread through close contact with a person who has COVID-19 than through airborne transmission.

Q: Can COVID-19 be transmitted by blood transfusion?
A: In general, respiratory viruses are not known to be transmitted by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases of transfusion-transmitted coronavirus.

Q: Can the COVID-19 virus spread through sewerage systems?
A: The virus that causes COVID-19 has been found in untreated wastewater. Researchers do not know whether this virus can cause disease if a person is exposed to untreated wastewater or sewerage systems. There is no evidence to date that this has occurred. At this time, the risk of transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 through properly designed and maintained sewerage systems is thought to be low.

Q: Can the virus that causes COVID-19 spread through pools, hot tubs, spas, and water playgrounds?
A: There is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, or water playgrounds. Additionally, proper operation of these aquatic venues and disinfection of the water (with chlorine or bromine) should inactivate the virus.

Q: How is a cause of death determined?
A. The cause of death is determined by the attending physician. When a person dies, his or her physician reviews their case and determines the cause of death before signing a death certificate. This process is the standard practice for all physicians across the country. Please note, there is no financial incentive for a physician when determining cause of death.

  1. If someone dies in a car accident, but tests positive for COVID-19, are they counted as a COVID-19 related death?
    A. COVID-19 related death counts are based on the information provided on the death certificate by the person who certifies the death. To be counted, the certifier must indicate that COVID-19 or infection with the virus that causes the disease, SARS-CoV-2, was either an underlying cause of death or a significant condition contributing to death.

    • If a person has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and then dies of an unrelated cause, COVID-19 should not be reported on the death certificate. The department does not make the cause of death determination – that is made by the certifier of the death certificate, which is the medical provider or coroner. For example, if someone has a managed condition (such as diabetes) and is diagnosed with COVID-19, and the combination of diabetes and COVID-19 complications causes the person to die, this would be counted as a COVID-related death; diabetes would also be listed on the death certificate as contributing to the death. Why? Because both conditions contributed to the person’s death.
    • In contrast, if a person with COVID-19 dies from trauma received in a motor vehicle accident, this would not be counted as a COVID-related death if the coroner determines that the victim’s illness had nothing to do with their death.

The professionals in Idaho who certify deaths understand the importance of a death certificate as a legal document and use the guidance provided by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) to certify COVID-19 related deaths. Using the NCHS guidance ensures deaths are recorded and counted the same way throughout the United States.

Q. Some people believe COVID-19 is being blamed for most all deaths right now. What is the process to count a death as COVID-19?
A. In 2018, Idaho had more than 14,000 deaths total across the state. By that metric, the state should be reporting more than 7,000 deaths at this time of year. As of July 20, only 119 deaths have been reported as COVID-19. A death is counted as COVID-related when a coroner or a physician reports that COVID-19 contributed to the death or was an underlying cause.

Q: I’ve heard the rumor that hospitals make money by labeling patients as COVID patients. Is this true?
Hospitals do NOT make more money treating COVID-19 patients, and they are NOT labeling more patients as COVID-positive than they are actually treating for COVID-19.

  • The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act increased reimbursements to hospitals for Medicare patients with COVID due to the high cost of COVID patient care. However, a misrepresentation of a patient’s COVID status would be fraudulent, exposing the provider to civil and even criminal liability.
  • Medicare is the only payer that has increased hospital reimbursement for COVID-positive patients. Therefore, for the vast majority of patients under age 65, there is no increase in funding for hospitalized COVID patients.
  • Clinicians who decide whether to diagnose patients with COVID have no economic incentive to do so. A diagnosing physician is paid the same amount for services provided to a patient with or without a COVID diagnosis.
  • Medicare’s increased reimbursements typically do not cover the increased costs of providing care to COVID-positive patients. COVID-positive patients often suffer more intense symptoms and potential complications than non-COVID patients. These patients often require a combination of medications and sometimes require a ventilator for many days to support breathing. Even COVID patients whose disease does not become more acute require more expensive care, including increased use of personal protective equipment, seclusion protocols, and heightened disinfection routines. The modest increase in Medicare reimbursement does not come close to covering the cost of care.

Q: Is COVID-19 a reportable disease in Idaho?
A: Yes. Tracking disease trends in Idaho involves the routine collection, analysis, and dissemination of health data provided by doctors, laboratories, and other health professionals about persons with certain diseases.  Reporting of these diseases is mandated as outlined in Idaho Reportable Disease Rules. Within those rules there is a section for Extraordinary Occurrence of Illness, Including Clusters, that qualifies COVID-19 as a reportable disease. Idaho’s reportable disease list is approved by the legislature, so COVID-19 can be added to that list during their next session.

Q: Who is required to report reportable diseases in Idaho?
A: Physicians, Hospital or Health Care Facility Administrators, Laboratory Directors, School Administrators, Persons in Charge of a Food Establishment. In addition, reports must be made by physician assistants, certified nurse practitioners, registered nurses, school health nurses, infection surveillance staff, public health officials, and coroners.

Q. I’m having an event and would like the health district to review my plan per Governor Little’s Stage 3 Order. Who should I speak to?
A. There is a form under the COVID-19 School and Business Information page ( titled COVID-19 Large Gathering Exemption Plan – Fillable PDF.

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: Can COVID-19 spread through airborne transmission?
A: Some infections can be spread by exposure to virus in small droplets and particles that can linger in the air for minutes to hours, this kind of spread is referred to as airborne transmission and is an important way that infections like tuberculosis, measles, and chicken pox are spread.

There is evidence that under certain conditions, people with COVID-19 seem to have infected others who were more than 6 feet away. These transmissions occurred within enclosed spaces that had inadequate ventilation. Sometimes the infected person was breathing heavily, for example while singing or exercising.

  • Under these circumstances, scientists believe that the amount of infectious smaller droplet and particles produced by the people with COVID-19 became concentrated enough to spread the virus to other people. The people who were infected were in the same space during the same time or shortly after the person with COVID-19 had left.

Available data indicate that it is much more common for the virus that causes COVID-19 to spread through close contact with a person who has COVID-19 than through airborne transmission.


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)
    • other symptoms have improved (for example, when their cough or shortness of breath have improved)
    • at least 10 days have passed since their symptoms first appeared

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 in a pinch. Masks with at least 2 layers of fabric are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings.

Simple masks can be made at home using washable, breathable fabric and may help prevent the spread of COVID-19.


Q: Are gaiters, also known as neck fleeces, bandanas, and face shields an alternative to masks?
A: Evaluation is on-going, but effectiveness is unknown at this time. A study by Duke University found neck fleeces (gaiters) and folded bandanas did not offer much protection versus other cloth face coverings and masks.


Q: What masks should NOT be worn?
A: Do not wear masks that are made of fabric that make it hard to breathe, for example, vinyl.

Do not wear masks that have exhalation valves or vents, which allow virus particles to escape.

Do not wear masks that are intended for healthcare workers, including N95 respirators or surgical masks.

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. How can a mask help if viruses are so small?
A. Viruses are very small. However, viruses don’t move on their own, they must be transmitted in some way. The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is transmitted in droplets that come through the nose and mouth. Using a mask creates a barrier that greatly decreases the potential to transmit droplets that could be carrying virus. If everyone wears a mask, we can keep everyone’s germs (droplets) to themselves.

Just as we all cover our cough or sneeze with our elbow or a tissue to keep droplets with germs and viruses from spreading to others, masks also help keep the droplets with germs and viruses from spreading. Wearing a mask is about protecting others.


Q. Can people get sick from increased carbon dioxide intake while wearing a mask?
A. No. There is enough filtration of air through a mask that wearers do not have increased carbon dioxide intake. Viruses, although very small, are much larger than molecules of oxygen or carbon dioxide which readily pass through masks.

CO2 makes up only about 0.04% of the air we breathe, and is considered life-threatening when its concentration is greater than about 10%.

Surgeons and nurses regularly wear masks for long periods of time as part of their normal work. While it may take time to get used to, and may be uncomfortable, we are all doing our part to keep each other safe. You may want to experiment with different styles and types of masks to see which is best for you.


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


Q: Can I be re-infected with COVID-19?
In general, reinfection means a person was infected (got sick) once, recovered, and then later became infected again. Based on what we know from similar viruses, some reinfections are expected. CDC is actively working to learn more about reinfection to inform public health action. CDC developed recommendations for public health professionals to help decide when and how to test someone for suspected reinfection. CDC has also provided information for state and local health departments to help investigate suspected cases of reinfection.

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

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

A: Call PHD’s COVID-19 hotline to be assessed for a test and our clinical services providers will write an order. An order needs to be written for all COVID-19 tests.


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  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: If a person tests multiple times, is each time counted as a case?
A. Each time a person is tested is counted separately in the total number of tests. Tests are tests, and cases are people. The science on SARS-CoV-2 indicates a person can shed the virus for an extended period of time as well as shed it sporadically – meaning they can test positive, then negative, then positive again.

For a complete list of CDC Frequently Asked Questions, visit:

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

Panhandle Health District has information on COVID-19 and resources for the community, visit: