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The first confirmed case of the coronavirus has been identified in Franklin County. The patient, a woman in her 40s, is home recovering. She contracted the virus while traveling, states a release from the Southeast Idaho Public Health Department. The department will not be available for further comment until business hours May 29.

Franklin County Medical Center did not issue the identifying test to this patient, said FCMC board chairman, Richard Westerberg, although the hospital has administered several tests to suspected cases over the last two months. As of 6 p.m. May 28, none of the hospital's tests have yet been confirmed positive.

The hospital has taken many precautions, such as extensive screening at the door, everyone inside wearing masks, and very restricted visiting regulations for patients in the hospital. No visitors are allowed for patients in the hospital's transitional care center. The precautions are intended to make sure the hospital is a safe environment for patients needing assistance for any health concern, said Westerberg.

"We are being very cautious to make sure we don't have the coronavirus in the hospital without knowing it," he said. 

"Obviously if someone has the coronavirus and needs hospitalization, we are prepared to take care of them and safeguard other patients and staff," Westerberg said. The hospital has four rooms that can be completely isolated to care for patients. Nurses taking care of such a patient will be dedicated to that patient. That is just one of the precautions dictated by state and federal guidelines the hospital is following, he said.

The woman in Franklin County is one of eight new cases reported in the Southeast Idaho Health District on May 28:

• a male in his 40s from Power County is home recovering. His is the first case of community transmission in Power County. Community transmission is defined as illness within a community that lacks connection to travel or other confirmed cases.

• female in her 40s from Bannock County is recovering at home. Her case is travel related.

• a female in her 30s from Bannock County is recovering at home. Her case is travel related.

• a male in his 30s from Bannock County is recovering at home. His case is travel related.

• a male, under the age of 18, from Bannock County is recovering at home. His case is travel related.

• a male, under the age of 18, from Bannock County, is recovering at home. His case is travel related.

• a female in her 20s from Bannock County is home recovering. Investigation ongoing.

SIPH will continue to monitor the situation closely and is working with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, city and county leaders, schools, emergency management, healthcare providers, and our community at large to help prevent the spread of this virus.

Prevention methods include:

• Follow Governor Little’s Statewide Stay-Healthy Idaho Order at rebound.idaho.gov

• Stay home if you are sick.

• Avoid people who are sick.

• Practice social distancing (6 ft).

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

• Wear cloth face coverings in public places.

• Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs using a disinfecting solution.

Anyone believing they have been exposed to the coronavirus should make sure to self-isolate. Anyone needing medical attention should call their healthcare provider in advance of a visit to discuss their symptoms and next steps. Testing is available by calling 208-234-5875. SIPH has a call center to field questions from the community and is open Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The department's hotline is (208) 234-5875.

For Southeast Idaho-specific information about the novel coronavirus, visit siphidaho.org or join their Facebook live broadcast Monday-Friday at 11 a.m.

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