Rexburg has reached the New York Times’ number one rank for cities with rising active COVID-19 cases within the last two weeks.
According to data compiled by the New York Times, Rexburg has had 766 recent cases with a population of 53,006. This places the city at 100.3 daily cases per 100k, ranking it number one on the Times’ list of metro areas with the greatest number of new cases relative to their population.
Eastern Idaho Public Health reported as of Oct. 6, Madison County has 266 active cases, the most out of any county EIPH tracks. Per 10k cases, 66.7 are active.
Rexburg Mayor Jerry Merrill said during a Facebook Live video the city will start a new initiative that asks businesses to be more aggressive about notifying people that masks are required to enter their business.
“We’re going to ask all of our businesses to cooperate with us in that so that we can get more of a culture of wearing the masks when we’re out in public.”
Businesses will also be asked to be more thorough about sanitation, Merrill said.
He said most people in the city are recovering. EIPH has reported two deaths in Madison County due to COVID-19 as of Oct. 6.
“Thankfully … it shows we’re got a fairly healthy population,” he said. “But folks, there are some who won’t [recover]. We’ve got older folks that are more vulnerable, we’ve got people that are cancer survivors and different folks that’ve got different issues and it’s a lot harder on them.”
Douglas McBride, executive director of business at Madison Memorial Hospital, said although Madison County is seeing large increases of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations at Madison Memorial have been low as a result.
He said the hospital is seeing most cases among younger people, from children to young adults. This has led to fewer hospitalizations and more recoveries.
“We feel very fortunate to be in this environment,” McBride said.
Madison Memorial has 69 beds, four ICU beds and eight ventilators. McBride said the hospital has not been up to capacity, however the increasing number of COVID-19 cases is concerning. He said if there was a higher percentage of more compromised patients, the hospital would reach capacity quickly.
Merrill said people need to live their lives, but also should be cautious about germs to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
To slow the rising trend of cases, McBride said residents should follow hygiene guidelines and be vigilant about wearing masks, sanitizing and social distancing.
“I know there’s lots of myths about wearing masks, and some people have gotten sick while wearing them, but it really does reduce the spread,” he said. “We highly encourage our community to follow the mandatory masking mandate, proper hand hygiene and social distancing guidelines.”