Madison COVID-19

A file photo from April 2020 of Madison Memorial Hospital’s screening desk, where hospital staff ask individuals if they have been out of the country, if they’ve been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus and if they’ve had symptoms associated with the virus before they enter the hospital.

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COVID-19 case rates are the lowest they’ve been since last summer, prompting Eastern Idaho Public Health to move Madison County into minimal risk level.

Health district director Geri Rackow announced during the district’s health board meeting on Thursday that Madison County had met the threshold requirements of staying below an active case rate of 15 per 10,000 for 14 consecutive days in order to move into the minimal risk level.

The county was officially moved into minimal risk on April 28, along with Jefferson County. Currently, all counties are in minimal risk with Bonneville County meeting the threshold requirements on April 29.

James Corbett, EIPH community health division administrator, said the region has not seen a percentage of positive cases this low since June 2020.

“We’re excited about the continued downward trend and hopefully that will continue,” Corbett said.

He added that COVID-19 hospitalizations were happening with a higher frequency than the health district would like. The health district tracked 32 hospitalized patients from COVID-19 as of April 29, which is nearly double the amount of the health district’s lowest number of hospitalizations during 2021 with 18 on Feb. 8.

Corbett said the health district attributed the rising trend with patients needing long-term hospitalizations and expected the hospitalization rate to match the low active case rate soon.

“That’s not a trend that’s suddenly stopped, it still has continued,” he said.

Rachel Gonzalez, chief executive officer of Madison Memorial Hospital, spoke on behalf of Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center and Idaho Falls Community Hospital during the meeting. She said the hospitals are trying to move toward treating COVID-19 on a long-term basis rather than using interim methods that have been adapted over the last year.

“Some of these things that we’ve had (such as screenings and COVID-19 wards), we’re just realizing we need to move these processes longer term,” Gonzalez said.

Both EIRMC and Idaho Falls Community Hospital reported to Gonzalez that some of their COVID-19 patients are needing long-term hospitalization and needing to be transferred to a long-term acute care facility.

“There’s still effects (of COVID-19) across the system of health care and we’re trying to work through that,” Gonzalez said.

As of April 30, there are 32 active COVID-19 cases in Madison County and the county has an active case rate of 8.0 per 10,000. The health district reported that there have been 28 COVID-19 deaths in the county as of Monday.

Fremont County has two active COVID-19 cases and the county has an active case rate of 1.5 per 10,000. There have been 14 COVID-19 deaths in the county.