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Health officials warn about possible coronavirus exposure at four more bars in Boise and Meridian

We talked with a Twin Falls man who came down with the coronavirus after visiting a Boise bar earlier this month.

BOISE, Idaho — Whether you want to believe it or not, we are still in the middle of a pandemic.

Not the end, still in the middle.

But you might not know that if you've been in downtown Boise over the last few weekends.

We told you last week about a possible COVID outbreak at some Boise bars.

Tuesday afternoon, we learned that several more locations in Boise and Meridian have been added to that list.

If you were at any of those locations during the dates listed you're being asked to monitor your symptoms for 21 days.

The bars and dates of possible exposure include:

  • Matador (downtown Boise) in the bar top only area. The exposure date was June 7 and anyone present should monitor for coronavirus symptoms through June 21. 
  • Vista Bar in Boise. The exposure date was June 9 and anyone present should monitor for symptoms through June 23. 
  • 9th Street Nook in Boise. The exposure date was June 10 and anyone present should monitor symptoms through June 24. 
  • The Breakaway Cafe & Spirits in Meridian. The exposure date was June 13 and anyone present at the bar top area only should monitor for symptoms through June 27. 

Central District Health had previously warned of possible exposure at six other Boise bars. The cluster of illnesses associated with that earlier group of bars has grown from 10 to 34, with more cases expected, CDH officials said, and they've expanded the possible exposure to include the weekend of June 12 and 13, in addition to the previously reported June 5 and 6. 

Those bars are:

  • Amsterdam Lounge – 609 W. Main St., Boise
  • Cactus Bar – 517 W. Main St., Boise
  • Humpin' Hannah's – 621 Main St., Boise
  • Silly Birch – 507 W. Main St., Boise
  • StrangeLove – 100 S. 6th St., Boise
  • Tom Grainey's – 109 S. 6th St., Boise

Anyone who was at one of these establishments on the exposure date should watch for COVID-19 symptoms, including fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, sore throat or new loss of taste or smell. CDH officials said to contact your healthcare provider if you develop any of these symptoms.

This announcement comes hours after Dave Jeppesen, the Director of Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, said the state continues to see an increase in COVID-19 cases.

Not with older or at-risk populations, but people in their 20s and 30s, specifically here in the Treasure Valley.

But it doesn't just stay here.

We spoke with a Twin Falls man who tested positive for COVID-19 after visiting several bars in Boise. We agreed to not use his last name due to privacy concerns. 

"It seemed fairly back to normal, I would say," Drew said about his visit to some Boise bars the weekend of June 6.

He knew coronavirus could be a concern, but he admits it wasn't front of mind.

"Probably going out to the bars it was definitely more in the back of my head, not thinking 'hey we could possibly get sick' but definitely, there wasn't a whole lot of concern upfront," Drew said.

A few days later, on the following Wednesday, Drew started to circle back to that thought.

"I started getting the chills that night," he said. "I didn't think too much about it, I just thought maybe it was a cold, I don't know what's going on, maybe I'm dehydrated."

So he went and got tested, and like others who were out at the bars that weekend, sure enough, Drew tested positive for coronavirus.

"Wasn't super shocked about the result," he said.

Health officials say they've been concerned from the beginning about possible new outbreaks at restaurants and bars where it can be difficult to maintain social distancing.

"There is a reason as to why they were slated to be opened late in the reopening phases because they were known high-risk environments," said Brandon Atkins with Central District Health.

Atkins says investigators continue to contact trace people who were at the bars that weekend.

"We had five confirmed initially, then five probable cases," he said. "That has since ballooned."

The count has now grown to more than 30 confirmed cases, and officials expect the cluster to continue to grow.

“The major contributing factor is individuals who aren't willing to adhere to protocols that have been placed," Atkins said. "To say, look we need to be social distancing, we need to be wearing face coverings, we need to be appropriately managing our respiratory etiquette when we are in public."

While it's great that bars and clubs are implementing rules, it's up to each person to decide to follow them.

"Many people were willing to do that but as soon as it was all open you saw just how many people threw caution to the wind and said,'I'm good. It's okay, it never really happened. I can be out and do whatever I want now,'" Atkins said.

If outbreak clusters continue to pop up and spread in the community, we could see another round of restrictions locally.

"If we see an increase and to a degree, it's impacting us adversely, we are going to have to reverse some of those allowances in order for us to help keep a cap on what those cases look like," he said.

And while at-risk people may not be out at the bar with you, the virus is very contagious.

"Which will eventually impact those higher-risk populations, there is no way around that," Atkins said.

Drew tells us the experience gave him a new perspective.

"Now that I've had it, probably should have been a little bit smarter about it," he said.

RELATED: Downtown Boise bar owners feel singled out after possible COVID-19 exposure

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