Public Health – Idaho North Central District reported the largest one-day spike in confirmed coronavirus cases in Latah County on Wednesday after four people tested positive.

The additional cases bring the total to 20, more than doubling last week’s total. There are five probable cases.

Of the four new cases, one is 0-9 years old, two are in their 30s and one is in his or her 50s. All four are recovering at home.

Whitman County reported two new positive cases Wednesday, bringing the total to 41. One of the cases is a man age 20-39 and the other is a man 40-59. Both are stable and isolating at home. No one has died from the virus in Whitman and Latah counties.

PH-INCD reported Wednesday in a news release widespread community transmission throughout the district, which includes Clearwater, Idaho, Latah, Lewis and Nez Perce counties.

Widespread community transmission means at least one person has been infected with the virus, and through contact tracing, the district is unable to determine how or where they became infected. The individuals did not travel and had no known contact with another person with COVID-19, the release said.

PH-INCD urges all residents to assume the virus could be anywhere in the district.

“We understand that social connections are vitally important to people, but we also want people to take precautions when interacting with others to minimize the opportunities for COVID-19 to be spread,” District Director Carol Moehrle said. “We anticipate we will continue to see an increase in cases of COVID-19 in our district due to the large events that took place in June and are expected in July and August.”

Peter Mundt, Gritman Medical Center director of community relations and marketing, said he has seen an increase in the past several days of people getting tested at the Moscow hospital.

Gritman, which includes Gritman and Moscow Family Medicine clinics, collected more than 1,300 coronavirus test samples since testing started in March, Mundt said.

Mundt said Gritman has been prepared — from a facilities, staffing and technology standpoint — for a potential surge in cases since March.

While Gritman is licensed as a 25-bed critical access hospital, it has the capacity to surge to as many as 43 rooms.

The University of Idaho and Gritman announced in March that Targhee Hall, a former dormitory on the southern edge of the school’s campus, is prepared to house local cases of the coronavirus should the demand for care and isolation exceed the hospital’s capacity.

UI Communications Director Jodi Walker said at the time Targhee Hall should be able to offer space for an additional 25 to 30 patients.

Mundt said no one has been hospitalized at Gritman for the coronavirus, and despite the recent increase in cases, there is no concern about running out of beds for coronavirus patients.

“This is what we’ve prepared for,” Mundt said.

While he said the hospital is as prepared as it can be, he asked that the public do its part, which means wearing a mask, social distancing and washing hands.

“If everyone does that, we will slow the spread of COVID-19 and that’s just a message we have to beat the drum on constantly,” Mundt said.

Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to gcabeza@dnews.com.

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