Idaho’s COVID-19 week: Thousands more cases, 134 deaths, but positive signs as well

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With major Idaho hospitals in their fifth week of operating under crisis standards of care, some state metrics are beginning to improve rather than worsen.

On Thursday, Idaho’s Department of Health and Welfare posted new data showing that the state’s test positivity rate had declined for the fourth week in a row. For the week of Oct. 3, 13.2% of the 41,458 recorded COVID-19 tests came back positive, which is less than the 14.4% that did the week before. For the week of Sept. 5, the rate was 17.3%.

Though any rate over 5% is considered by many health experts to indicate out-of-control viral spread, health officials this week said that four weeks of decline would make them optimistic that the number of new delta infections is dropping.

Infections at long-term care facilities are still rising, but for the second straight week, the state reported fewer long-term care facilities with COVID-19 outbreaks than the previous week. There were 6,571 people with active cases of COVID-19 at 142 facilities on Oct. 8, and there were 6,976 people in 138 facilities on Friday.

The week of Oct. 10, the state reported 8,415 new cases, which is fewer than the 8,564 reported the prior week. A backlog of cases that now stands at 4,800 outstanding positive lab results is likely distorting the actual number added each day. Some of the cases added on any particular day likely were received on prior days.

Of the week’s new cases, 2,734 were reported in Ada County and 1,478 in Canyon County, meaning they accounted for more than half the weekly total. There have been 276,078 total cases statewide.

At hospitals, while new COVID-19 admissions have fallen only slightly, the overall number of COVID-19 patients is down markedly from the end of September.

On Oct. 13, there were 615 patients with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19, and 179 COVID-19 patients in an intensive care unit. On Sept. 24, those numbers were as high as 793 and 213. Health officials have said that some of this decline is attributable to the high number of deaths in recent weeks.

Despite the decline, many hospitals are still operating at or near capacity, and the current hospitalization numbers are considerably higher than the levels seen during the peak last year.

The state added 34 deaths on Friday and 134 for the week. There have been 3,251 deaths since the start of the pandemic, and Idaho’s case fatality rate is about 1.18%.

Vaccinations in Idaho are still lagging significantly behind other states. The Gem State has the second-lowest rate in the country, with only 53.6% of eligible residents (12 and older) vaccinated.

LONG-TERM CARE UPDATE

As of Friday, Health and Welfare reports that there are 6,976 active coronavirus cases among 138 facilities. There are 204 facilities with resolved outbreaks.

To date, 878 people from 196 facilities in Idaho have died from COVID-19-related causes — 10 more than were reported last Friday. Long-term care deaths account for about 27% of the 3,251 deaths in the state.

The most recent data from Health and Welfare show that 78.4% of Idahoans age 65 and older have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Below is a list of Idaho cities along with the number of facilities in each city that have active cases among residents and/or staff. For an outbreak to be considered “resolved,” more than 28 days must pass (two incubation periods) without any additional cases associated with the facility.

American Falls (2), Bellevue (1), Blackfoot (3), Boise (28), Buhl: (1), Burley (2), Caldwell (4), Chubbuck (2), Coeur d’Alene (8), Eagle (2), Emmett (2), Fruitland (1), Garden City (1), Gooding (1), Grangeville (1), Hayden (1), Idaho Falls (5), Kuna (2), Lewiston (8), Malad (2), Meridian (15), Middleton (1), Montpelier (2), Moscow (2), Nampa (6), Orofino (1), Parma (1), Payette (1), Pinehurst (1), Pocatello (11), Post Falls (3), Rathdrum (1), Rexburg (2), Rupert (1), Salmon (1), Sandpoint (3), St. Maries (1), Star (1), Twin Falls (9).

Visit coronavirus.idaho.gov for a complete list of long-term facilities with active cases this week.

WEEKLY SNAPSHOT

Vaccine doses administered in Idaho: 1,639,989, according to Health and Welfare. Of those, 809,091 people have been fully vaccinated, which accounts for 53.6% of Idahoans age 12 and older.

Test positivity rate: Out of the 41,458 COVID-19 tests conducted for the week of Oct. 3-9, 13.2% came back positive.

For a full list of daily numbers on a county-by-county basis, visit our “What We Know” story.

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