COVID-19 community spread identified in Bonner County

| June 4, 2020 1:27 PM

SANDPOINT — While the number of COVID-19 cases didn’t go up in the region, community spread has been identified in Bonner County, Panhandle Health District officials said Thursday.

In the Panhandle area, community transmission, also referred to as community spread, had already been identified in Kootenai and Benewah counties.

Community spread means at least one person has been infected with the virus and, through contact tracing, officials are unable to determine how or where they became infected, PHD spokesperson Katherine Hoyer said. In addition, the individual did not travel and had no identified contact with another person with COVID-19.

“PHD urges all residents to assume the virus could be anywhere in the community and surrounding counties,” she said.

As of Thursday, there are a total of 97 cases of COVID-19 in the Panhandle area. That is an increase of 18 cases since last week. Kootenai County remains at 78 cases, Benewah County at seven cases, and Bonner County at five cases. The health district is still researching seven of the cases to determine what county they primarily reside in. Sixty-nine of the total reported cases are no longer being monitored and there are 28 active cases.

The CDA Tribe has announced that there are 22 cases associated with the reservation.

“We realize this does not match our case count for Benewah County,” Hoyer said. “We count cases by an individual’s primary county of residence, so the cases the Tribe has announced aren’t necessarily all primary residents of Benewah County. 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.”

Hoyer said the health district will continue to monitor the situation closely and are working with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, tribal communities, city leaders, schools, emergency management, healthcare providers, and our community at large to help prevent the further spread of this virus.

The Panhandle area covers the five northern counties, Kootenai, Bonner, Benewah, Boundary, and Shoshone.

According to the CDC, 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:

• Cough

• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

• Fever

• Chills

• Muscle pain

• Sore throat

• New loss of taste or smell

This list is not all possible symptoms. Other less common symptoms have been reported, including gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

If community members have these symptoms and they become severe, they should call PHD’s call center at 1-877-415-5225 or their provider. PHD will provide an over-the-phone assessment to determine if someone should be tested. Please call, do not come into PHD or your provider’s office.