Investigation and public health response to a COVID-19 outbreak in a rural resort community-Blaine County, Idaho, 2020.

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From: PLoS ONE(Vol. 16, Issue 4)
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Document Type: Report
Length: 5,901 words
Lexile Measure: 1560L

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Abstract :

Blaine County, Idaho, a rural area with a renowned resort, experienced a COVID-19 outbreak early in the pandemic. We undertook an epidemiologic investigation to describe the outbreak and guide public health action. Confirmed cases of COVID-19 were identified from reports of SARS-CoV-2-positive laboratory test results to South Central Public Health District. Information on symptoms, hospitalization, recent travel, healthcare worker status, and close contacts was obtained by medical record review and patient interviews. Viral sequence analysis was conducted on a subset of available specimens. During March 13-April 10, 2020, a total of 451 COVID-19 cases among Blaine County residents (1,959 cases per 100,000 population) were reported, with earliest illness onset March 1. The median patient age was 51 years (interquartile range [IQR]: 37-63), 52 (11.5%) were hospitalized, and 5 (1.1%) died. The median duration between specimen collection and a positive laboratory result was 9 days (IQR: 4-10). Forty-four (9.8%) patients reported recent travel and an additional 37 cases occurred in out-of-state residents. Healthcare workers comprised 56 (12.4%) cases; 33 of whom worked at the only hospital in the county, leading to a 15-day disruption of hospital services. Among 562 close contacts monitored by public health authorities, laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 or compatible symptoms were identified in 51 (9.1%). Sequencing results from 34 specimens supported epidemiologic findings indicating travel as a source of SARS-CoV-2, and identified multiple lineages among hospital workers. Community mitigation strategies included school and resort closure, stay-at-home orders, and restrictions on incoming travelers. COVID-19 outbreaks in rural communities can disrupt health services. Lack of local laboratory capacity led to long turnaround times for COVID-19 test results. Rural communities frequented by tourists face unique challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Implementing restrictions on incoming travelers and other mitigation strategies helped reduce COVID-19 transmission early in the pandemic.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A659212262