Idaho fire chief dies from COVID-19

Garden Valley Fire Protection District Chief Jon Delvalle remembered as "a hero who will be greatly missed by everyone"

Duty Death: Jon Delvalle - [Garden Valley, Idaho]

End of Service: 09/14/2021


Rachel Roberts
The Idaho Statesman

GARDEN VALLEY, Idaho — Garden Valley Fire Protection District Chief Jon Delvalle passed away Tuesday from complications from COVID-19, according to a Facebook post from the Garden Valley Fire Protection District.

"This is the toughest Facebook posting we've ever made," the post reads. "... We ask that everyone in our community keep Chief Delvalle's family and the many Garden Valley Fire Department volunteers and employees in their thoughts and prayers as we move through this most difficult time.

"Chief Delvalle was a hero who will be greatly missed by everyone."

Idaho has now lost 2,560 residents to the coronavirus, with a case fatality rate of about 1.07%.

The Garden Valley Fire Protection District is located in Garden Valley, which is part of Boise County. Boise County has the second-lowest vaccination rate among the state's 45 counties, with only 29% of residents 12 and older who are fully vaccinated, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

KTVB-TV reported that according to Garden Valley Fire, Delvalle was not vaccinated.

For COVID-19 cases reported in Idaho from May 15 through Sept. 11, 89.9% (39,256 of 43,672 total cases) were among individuals who were not fully vaccinated, according to Health and Welfare. Unvaccinated individuals accounted for 91.1% of COVID-19 hospitalizations (1,683 of 1,847) during that same time period and 88% of deaths (316 of 359).

Individuals salute the American flag at half mast.
Individuals salute the American flag at half mast. (Photo/Garden Valley FD Auxiliary)

Delvalle began working for the Garden Valley fire department in 2004.

"I've never known a person more dedicated to his community than Jon Delvalle," said Facebook commenter Greg Maples. "I am honored to have known him. Thank you, Jon, for all you did and for your positive impact on my life. His legacy will live on in the many lives he touched."

Added commenter Jim Potter: "So very sad. He will be greatly missed. An outstanding member of our community."

The Garden Valley Fire Protection District board of commissioners is scheduled to hold a special meeting Thursday. Among the items on the agenda is the approval of Rob Glankler as acting fire chief.

Idaho adds 55 deaths, hits hospitalization high

The most recent hospitalization data from Health and Welfare shows a record 678 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Monday, including a record-tying 173 in intensive care.

The high last year was 496 patients on Dec. 1. Idaho's COVID-19 hospitalizations have been increasing since mid-July. At this time last week, there were 613 COVID-19 patients in Idaho hospitals and 527 at the start of the month. As of Wednesday, there were 12 adult ICU beds left open in the entire state, staffed and available for occupancy.

There were 1,315 new cases and 55 new coronavirus-related deaths added to the state's total on Wednesday. However, Health and Welfare said some of the recorded deaths actually occurred as far back as May 27, with 30 of those being Idahoans who died out of state.

Crisis standards of care have been activated in two North Idaho public health districts, and IDHW Director Dave Jeppesen said in a news briefing Tuesday that health systems in the Boise area are on the brink.

"Hospitalizations in Southwest, Central and South Central health districts, which includes the Treasure Valley and the Magic Valley, are reaching a critical point," Jeppesen said. "Without a change in direction, crisis standards of care are imminent for all three of those health districts."

Southwest District Health facing backlog, encourages vaccinations

Southwest District Health, which serves Adams, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette and Washington counties, says it has averaged 150 new cases of COVID-19 per day since August.

The rapid increase and limited staffing have created a "significant backlog" in COVID-19 case investigations.

"We are on a very concerning trajectory. Our hospitals are full, and we anticipate the situation will worsen before it improves," said SWDH director Nikki Zogg in a news release. " Southwest District Health is making every effort to provide accurate and timely data and information to our community, schools, businesses, and elected officials, but we cannot keep up with the current pace of new cases being reported each day.

"Our community can help us by making the decision to get vaccinated, staying home when sick, avoiding the emergency department unless it is necessary, and assisting Southwest District Health by providing timely information following a positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR test."

The health district is asking residents who test positive for COVID-19 to use a secure online form to share their experience, which will be sent to them via text message from SWDH. The form asks the same questions disease investigators would go through. Individuals who test positive are also encouraged to notify those they have been in close contact with up to two days prior to developing symptoms or testing positive.

Since late July, all counties in SWDH were categorized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as having high levels of community transmission. As of Sept. 15, the districtwide COVID-19 incidence rate is 6.8 new cases daily per 10,000 residents, and the most current test positivity rate is 18.35%. A positivity rate greater than 5% indicates lack of control over the spread of the virus.

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(c)2021 The Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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