Community Leaders Urge Safety and Vigilance During Surge of Omicron Variant

An Open Letter to the Citizens of Teton Valley

DRIGGS, ID — Monday, January 10, 2022 — Recent Teton Valley Health statistics show that the percentage of people who test positive for COVID-19 has doubled twice in the previous two weeks. Almost one-third of those tested this week were positive for COVID-19. This is the highest level of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. This increase is a result of the following:

  • The Omicron variant is more easily transmitted than prior variants
  • The Omicron variant has a greater ability to evade immunity provided by a past infection or vaccination

Rapidly increasing cases strain our healthcare system, schools, and businesses and reduce services available in our community. Hospitals are currently short staffed due to illness and at capacity in most of the state. Community leaders at Teton Valley Health, Teton County, Eastern Idaho Public Health, Teton School District 401 and the cities of Victor, Driggs and Tetonia are urging appropriate action by the citizens of Teton County to limit the spread of coronavirus.

“The percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 has significantly increased and the number of people with COVID-19 in our valley have gone up substantially and are expected to continue to grow rapidly,” says Teton Valley Health CEO, Keith Gnagey. “Even though many Omicron cases may be less severe , this significant increase in positivity means potential health system overload and business closures due to employee illness and we need everyone’s help to avoid that.”

Individuals may be contagious for up to two days before symptoms start so the chances of exposure to COVID-19 in the community right now is high. The public should assume that many members of the community and visitors have COVID-19.

As a result, community leaders are providing information to help you safely navigate the surge of the Omicron variant and manage an illness, should you develop COVID-19.

What you need to know if you have COVID-19

Most patients will be able to manage their illness at home with isolation, rest, fluids and over the counter medication. Most patients with mild symptoms will not require hospitalization. However, patients with risk factors for severe illness (e.g., smoking, diabetes, obesity, and chronic lung diseases) should monitor themselves closely given the possible risk of progression to severe illness, especially in the second and third weeks after the onset of symptoms. If your symptoms get worse, please seek medical help by talking to your provider or going to a clinic. If you experience any of the following symptoms seek immediate medical care:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone

Please talk with your healthcare provider about specific guidance for you and your family.

Clinic symptoms for children under 17 are similar to adults, but cases are usually less severe though severity does vary by the age of the child. Commonly reported symptoms in children with COVID-19 include cough or fever, headaches, congestion and sore throat.

Many children infected with COVID-19 have mild cases, although severe outcomes, including death, have occurred. Children of all ages with certain underlying medical conditions may also be at increased risk of severe illness. Please talk with your healthcare provider about your specific situation if you or someone in your family is ill.

Available Treatments for COVID-19

Teton Valley Hospital has multiple treatments for those exposed to or those who have COVID-19 caused by any variant who require additional therapies to combat COVID-19.

Therapies for high-risk, non-hospitalized patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 include:

  • Antiviral drugs such as Paxlovid or Molnupiravir
  • Monoclonal antibodies administered intravenously such as Sotrovimab and Rogeneron

Other therapies exist for hospitalized patients. However, many of these treatments are currently in short supply and treatment for high-risk patients with COVID-19 will be prioritized.

How You Can Protect Yourself and Your Family

There are a variety of things you can do to help limit the spread of coronavirus.

  • Get the vaccine – for everyone ages five years and older. Vaccinations are available locally for free, and in most cases, no appointment is necessary.
  • If eligible, get a vaccine booster, which is five months after completion of the Moderna or Pfizer series or two
    months after a Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine.

Getting a vaccine and booster is the best way to reduce your chances of getting COVID-19, and if you do get COVID-19, of getting a less severe case of the disease.

  • Wear a mask in public indoor settings, even if around other fully vaccinated people
  • Follow CDC guidance for isolation and mask wearing after exposure or after recovering from COVID-19
  • Maintain 6 feet of distance between others not in your family in public places wherever possible
  • Maintain good hand hygiene with frequent and thorough washing and sanitizing
  • Don’t infect others. Stay home from work, school, and public places when you have any single symptom or combination of symptoms such as fever, sore throat, runny nose, cough, body aches, congestion, or fatigue
  • Have a conversation with a friend, neighbor, or family member about how they can help combat the spread of coronavirus in our community

Thank you for doing your part to protect our community as we work together to get through this current surge in cases.

For all COVID-19 information, please visit: