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Dotti Owens, Ada County Coroner
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COVID-19 FAQ

In the interest of transparency and public health, our office will be continuously updating this webpage with information regarding decedent COVID-19 testing. We have received phone calls from concerned citizens who may have been exposed to a decedent with a COVID-19 concern, and are hoping this information will assist in personal precautionary measures for those individuals with a concern of exposure to a specific decedent. We have created a categorization system to quantify the potential of a decedent requiring COVID-19 testing based off of a variety of factors including, but not limited to, the following:  medical history, travel history, current symptoms and/or prior exposure to a confirmed COVID-19 positive person.  The following decedents have been tested for COVID-19 based on the previously outlined criteria and the results are as follows:

NAME DATE OF BIRTH TEST RESULT
Frederick Gilbert 10/31/1948 Negative
Wynn Puckey 10/15/1992 Negative
Kashindi Wisesa 07/10/2004 Negative
Joshua Merritt 10/23/1974 Negative
Milton Blume 04/16/1924 Negative
Clinton Simkins 04/27/1937 Negative
Carol Smith 10/05/1953 Negative
John Anderson 12/09/1948 Negative
Theresa Brassfield 08/02/1957 Negative
Steven Tibbs 03/09/1943 Negative
Gary Cox 11/28/1942 Positive
Ivan Zamarripa Argomaniz 03/15/1988 Negative
John Herman 11/17/1935 Positive
Chad White 04/09/1979 Negative
Richard Mills 01/18/1927 Positive
Terry Conley Sr. 04/07/1936 Negative
Bonnie Stinson 09/23/1980 Negative

A Letter From the Coroner

Dear Ada County Citizens,

As always, the citizens of Ada County are my highest priority and as your Coroner I assure you, my office has numerous precautions in place to ensure this essential service provided to our community is not disrupted. As standard practice, every division of my experienced staff is trained to identify and manage cases involving potential infectious disease and all possible safety and protective measures are taken to prevent further contamination.

In coordination with Central District Health and Centers for Disease Control, my office has tested decedents for the novel coronavirus, and all tests have returned negative to date. The exact amount of tests performed is below and updated continuously.

While my office remains open to the public, I kindly ask if you feel ill, to reach out by phone rather than in-person.  An on-call staff member is available 24/7.  Unfortunately, in times like these where the likelihood of potentially infectious decedents has increased, the precautionary measures required on scene and during examination may not only cause the time-frames of the overall investigation of individual cases to increase, but also cause the overall caseload of my office to become more significant. Due to these circumstances, I humbly ask the citizens we serve for patience while we continue to provide the highest caliber of forensic pathology practice and medicolegal investigation to this community. I hope the information present on this page assists you with any questions you have for our office in this challenging time.

Thank you,

Coroner Dotti Owens

Q. What is “Personal Protective Equipment” and why is it necessary?

PPE Diagram-

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is equipment utilized to minimize exposure to hazards that can cause serious workplace injury or illness.  Our office has specific protocols on the PPE required for managing cases with potential for exposure to contagious illnesses and/or contaminants. These safety measures are necessary in order to protect the health of our staff members and the health of the community. These protocols include the following equipment:

Full Tyvek Suit:  A full Tyvek suit protects the wearer from a variety of hazards including airborne elements.  They are made to repel liquids and aerosols, and create a barrier against fine particles and fibers.  They are also highly durable and abrasion resistant.

N-95 Mask:  A N-95 mask is designed to protect the wearer from contamination from airborne particles and/or liquid.

Safety Goggles:  Safety goggles are designed to protect the wearer’s eyes from objects and airborne particles.

Nitrile Gloves:  Nitrile gloves are designed to be highly durable hand protection while also allowing the wearer dexterity. As an additional precaution, medicolegal death investigators “double glove” their hands in situations with potential exposure hazards. “Double glove” refers to wearing two gloves on each hand.

Shoe Covers:  Shoe covers are designed to protect the wearer from exposure to a contaminated environment and prevent the spread of any contaminants by the wearer.

Q. How is the Ada County Coroner’s Office preparing for potential COVID-19 cases?

In addition to our standard protocol for managing cases with potential infectious disease, we have implemented a protocol specific to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).  We have created a categorization system to quantify the potential risk of COVID-19 prior to responding to the scene based off a variety of factors including, but not limited to, the following:  medical history, travel history, current symptoms and prior exposure to a confirmed COVID-19 positive person.

Unfortunately, not all decedents will have this information available prior to our medicolegal death investigators responding to a scene.  However, as with all of our cases, we gather as much preliminary information as possible prior to scene response and make an educated decision based off the gathered history.  Decedents without a significant history will still be treated as a potential risk in order to protect the health of our staff and the public.

Decedents deemed to have a high, medium or low risk of COVID-19 are managed according to the protocol specific to the associated risk level.  All risk level protocols address exactly how each division of the Ada County Coroner’s Office manages the decedent, themselves and any exposed environments/equipment.

Q. How many decedents have been tested for COVID-19, and how do you decide who to test?

At this time (updated 05/22/20), tested decedents under the jurisdiction of the Ada County Coroner’s Office are listed above with results as listed.

All decedents falling into the above mentioned protocol of high, medium or low risk for COVID-19 are tested for COVID-19 following guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It is important to note, the Ada County Coroner’s Office may not manage the majority of potential deaths due to COVID-19 depending on the circumstances of the death. Per Idaho statute, the Ada County Coroner has jurisdiction over deaths for any individual who expires within Ada County boundaries including those unattended by a physician, violent or non-natural deaths and deaths of minors (children under 18) with no significant medical history.  Deaths at the hospital with a documented history which have been managed by a medical professional may not fall under the jurisdiction of the Coroner depending on if the cause and manner of death are known and a medical professional certifies the death certificate.

Helpful Links for COVID-19 information:

Coronavirus – What You Need to Know

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

 

Novel Coronavirus – Idaho Specific Resources

Central District Health, Idaho

 

Important Information About COVID-19 – Ada County Facility Operations

Ada County, Idaho

 

Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases

The Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University