For the fourth straight week, Idaho’s COVID-19 test positivity rate has declined, which health officials believe may be an indication that the spread of the delta variant is on the wane in Idaho.
For the week of Oct. 3, the most recent data available, 13.2% of the 41,458 recorded COVID-19 tests came back positive, which is down from 14.4% the week before. The week of Sept. 5, the rate was 17.3%, according to data from the Department of Health and Welfare.
A positivity rate of 13.2% is still considered high by public health officials — and way above the 5% needed to indicate control of virus spread — but the decline the past few weeks is good news. On Tuesday, deputy state epidemiologist Dr. Kathryn Turner said four weeks of declining numbers would be heartening.
“I think if I see a decline in the percent positivity again this week, I think we’ll lean more towards, ‘We’re optimistic,’” she said. “I think four weeks of declines would indicate to us that we would be on the downslope.”
For at least two weeks, local public health districts have been behind on reporting thousands of cases to Health and Welfare, which has likely significantly distorted the number of new cases reported each day. On Thursday, there were around 5,330 positive laboratory results still pending review, according to the state’s dashboard.
The data issues have made it difficult for health officials to predict the future of the surge using daily infection numbers, but the state’s positivity rate has been unaffected by the backlog.
Even if cases are declining, health officials have long said that hospitalization and death numbers usually lag behind shifts in the number of infections, meaning that those numbers could still increase in the coming weeks.
On Thursday, the state added 1,935 new cases and 30 deaths. In all, there have been 274,559 cases and 3,217 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Since March 2020, there have been 11,965 hospitalizations, 1,984 intensive care unit admissions and 126,246 estimated recoveries.
FDA PANEL ADVISES MODERNA BOOSTER FOR SOME AMERICANS
A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Thursday recommended authorizing a booster dose for recipients of the Moderna vaccine who meet certain criteria, six months after they were fully vaccinated.
Those eligible would include people 65 or older and other adults at high risk for severe COVID-19 due to health conditions or working in a high-risk environment. A booster dose for the same categories of recipients of the Pfizer vaccine was already authorized last month.
The Moderna booster shot would be a half-dose.
The FDA panel’s recommendation will be reviewed for FDA authorization, likely in the coming days. After that, the data and recommendation will be reviewed by an advisory committee at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as by CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
For a full list of daily numbers on a county-by-county basis, visit our “What We Know” story.