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Last night, Central District Health's board unanimously voted for a public health advisory that covers all four of its counties and makes "strong recommendations" to wear face masks, work from home and avoid all social gatherings, writes Idaho Press reporter Thomas Plank. The board agreed to pass the new advisory as COVID-19 numbers continue to rise in Ada, Boise, Elmore and Valley counties. If any of the three major health care systems in the Treasure Valley — St. Luke's, Saint Alphonsus or the Boise Veterans Administration Medical Center — implement crisis standards of care, the advisory will go back before the board for a decision on whether or not it will become a public health order.

Kim Link, Central District Health's communicable diseases program manager, said Ada County would see its case rate jump to 73 per 100,000 population once last week's 2,800 positive tests were put into their online database.

"The trajectory we are on is not sustainable in the short term," Link said. "We're getting as many cases in a single day as we should in a week at this time."

Health officials from around southwestern Idaho on Tuesday described dire conditions in hospitals and primary care facilities, as beds filled up and crisis standards of care loom on the horizon. Crisis standards of care are state-mandated measures that determine which patients get health care based on their chances for survival and years of survival after they receive the health care.

In rural hospitals, crisis standards of care mean "sorry, there's nothing we can do," Dr. Bill Vetter of Emmett said.

You can read Plank's full story here at idahopress.com (subscription required), or pick up Thursday's print edition of the Idaho Press.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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