Little issues isolation order for Blaine County

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New coronavirus cases jump to 17 in southern Idaho county; still no confirmed cases locally

Idaho Gov. Brad Little issued an isolation order for Blaine County residents as the number of COVID-19 cases there soared to 17 on Thursday and the Department of Health and Welfare confirmed community spread.

There has yet to be a confirmed case of the illness in the five counties of north central Idaho or in Asotin, Garfield and Whitman counties in southeastern Washington. Health officials in the eight-county, two-state region continue to await test results from an unknown number of suspected cases.

A Pullman firefighter-medic was put in quarantine after he transported a patient suspected of having the highly contagious illness. But the firefighter was later released after the patient’s test came back negative, according to a city of Pullman news release.

Little said his order, for which details were not available Thursday, aligns with guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and was taken to help stem the spread of the virus in the county, which is the home of resort communities Ketchum and Sun Valley.

“This is the first time in Idaho that a person contracted the virus from an unknown source in their community,” said Little during a news conference at the capital.

At least two of the cases there involve health care workers. Little said his team is working to ensure doctors, nurses and medical personnel there and elsewhere have personal protective equipment.

“Our number one priority is to slow the spread of the virus in that community and outside of it,” Little said. “To ensure that happens, the director of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare will issue an isolation order for residents in the area. We are still working on the details, and residents will still have essential services available to them, such as access to grocery stores and, of course, health care.”