Officials optimistic, but Idaho’s COVID caseload remains high: 1,466 added Tuesday

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Though Idaho officials said on Tuesday that they are becoming optimistic the state is past the peak of the current COVID-19 surge, daily case and deaths counts remain high.

On Tuesday, the Department of Health and Welfare reported 1,466 new cases and 18 deaths. Because of the high volume of cases in recent weeks, the state is still experiencing a backlog of around 3,700 positive laboratory results that are pending local public health district review.

On Tuesday, Dr. Kathryn Turner, deputy state epidemiologist, said at a press conference that health employees prioritize the cases that were most recently added, but each day they also “chip away” at the backlog. Most of the outstanding cases were received by the state within the past 7-10 days, she said.

Though the COVID-19 situation in Idaho might be improving slightly, crisis standards of care remain activated in the state for hospitals.

“While people in the hospital with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 or in the ICU with confirmed COVID-19 are on the decline, the number of people in the hospital is vastly greater than it was during the winter 2020 peak,” said Elke Shaw-Tulloch, administrator for the Idaho Division of Public Health.

As of Oct. 14, there were 600 patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 in Idaho hospitals and 180 COVID-19 patients in ICU.

“Hospitals continue to make some very tough decisions and our health care workers continue to see more death and suffering than they should,” Shaw-Tulloch said.

State officials emphasized on Tuesday that since vaccines were widely introduced this year, the average age of people getting sick from and dying of COVID-19 has been falling, with nearly all severe cases and deaths among unvaccinated people.

Since May, 86% of COVID-19 deaths have been among unvaccinated residents.

Of the 18 new deaths recorded on Tuesday, one person was between 18 and 29 years old, and 11 were younger than 70, according to updated state demographic data.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 12,148 hospitalizations, 2,021 admissions to an intensive care unit and 12,255 health care workers infected with COVID-19.

With many Idaho residents now eligible for booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine, 66,152 had received an extra dose as of Tuesday. A total of 1,648,105 vaccine doses have been administered in the state, with 813,935 people fully vaccinated. The state has recorded 11,555 vaccine breakthrough cases.

For a full list of the day’s county-by-county totals, visit our “What We Know” story.

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