First Benewah County COVID-19 case confirmed

| May 23, 2020 12:13 PM

SANDPOINT — Panhandle Health District confirmed the first case of novel coronavirus in Benewah County on Saturday.

In addition, two new cases were reported in Pend Oreille County, just over the border in Washington state. Both of the individuals live in southern Pend Oreille County, according to Northeast Tri County Health District officials.

The Benewah County case involves a female under the age of 18. She has been contacted and advised to self-isolate. The Panhandle area has a total of 71 COVID-19 cases. There are 66 in Kootenai County, four in Bonner County, and the one case in Benewah County.

PHD epidemiologists will conduct contact tracing and close contacts will be contacted if they are potentially at risk. Additional case-specific information about this individual is confidential and will not be released.

“Our call center is available Monday through Friday to take questions or concerns for our community,” said Lora Whalen, health district director. “We continue to urge everyone to continue practicing the staged guidelines in Governor Littles reopening plan.”

PHD will continue to monitor the situation closely and are working with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, 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 5 northern counties, Kootenai, Bonner, Benewah, Boundary, and Shoshone.

In Pend Oreille County, NETCHD staff said they are working to investigate each case and will be reaching out to potential close contacts. These individuals will be given additional guidance and advised of precautions they should take.

With many neighboring counties now moving to Phase 2, NETCHD said the area will most likely see more out-of-town visitors coming to recreate in our the area. "In efforts to prevent potential exposure in our communities we are asking businesses, patrons and members of our community to take … precautions as we go into the Memorial Day Weekend," they said in a press release.

Those measures include practicing social distancing when around others, wearing cloth face masks, staying home if you are sick, and higher-risk individuals are advised to stay home if possible.

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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.