The Bear River Health Department has issued a public health order that would enable a “classroom test-to-stay program” in elementary schools across the Bear River region.
BRHD will work closely with local school officials to determine whether test-to-stay will be necessary in local classrooms. Since COVID-19 vaccines are currently unavailable for children under 12, schools are seeing increased cases of COVID-19 in comparison to 2020 at the same time. The weekly incidence of COVID-19 has increased by 159% in individuals 0-9 years of age over the past three weeks.
BRHD states that COVID-19 poses a “continuing and immediate threat to the public health of Bear River Health District residents and visitors.” The Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus is the “dominant strain actively circulating in the District and is more contagious than the original virus and other variants.”
The order states:
—”The ‘Classroom test to stay program’ is a program that may be implemented for any elementary school classroom that has 3 or more confirmed COVID-19 cases in students, faculty, or volunteers within a 7-day period.”
—”Testing will allow for the identification of cases of COVID-19 in the classroom and dismiss those with a positive test for remote learning during the infectious period.
—”Testing will allow individuals who test negative for COVID-19 to continue to attend school in person.”
Under Utah Code § 26A-1-114(7), “a local health department may not … issue an order of constraint until the local health department has provided notice of the proposed action to the chief executive officer of a relevant county no later than 24 hours before the local health department issues the order.”
Utah Senate Bill 107 requires a school to implement a “Test to Stay” protocol when a school with at minimum 1,500 students has 2% of its population test positive for COVID-19 tests within 14 days or when a school with fewer than 1,500 students has at least 30 students test positive for COVID-19 within 14 days. Schools within the Bear River region have been in session over this 14 day period.
As of Sept. 15, Utah hospitals have a 95.5% total ICU utilization rate, with 43.5% ICU COVID-19 utilization. Logan Regional Hospital reported capacity for both ICU and Non-ICU beds. COVID-19 hospitalizations are now limited critical healthcare to non-related health problems.
“This order was presented and approved by the Board of Health, which has three county elected officials,” said BRHD Public Information Officer Estee Hunt. “In addition, a draft was sent to all county officials for feedback before issuing the notification.”
In addition, the BRHD urges community members to stay home when sick, get vaccinated if eligible and wear a mask when in public.
Cache County Executive David Zook was not available for comment by Friday afternoon.