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ICU admissions dip to October levels as Idaho adds about 400 COVID-19 cases, 10 deaths

This article was originally published by Nicole Blanchard and Jacob Scholl in the Idaho Statesman.

COVID-19-related intensive care unit admissions have continued to decline in Idaho, but health officials reported just over 400 new coronavirus cases Wednesday and the state added 10 COVID-19-related deaths — four of those in Canyon County.

Statewide, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and local health districts reported 295 confirmed and 111 probable cases of COVID-19, for a total of 406 cases.

As cases have continued to decline, hospitalizations and ICU admissions have followed suit. On Feb. 15, the most recent date for which data was available, 37 people were in ICUs statewide with COVID-19. For the week leading up to Feb. 15, an average of 39.7 people were in the ICU each day. The 7-day moving average for ICU patients hasn’t been that low since early October, when it quickly climbed back into the 50s. In mid-December, Idaho had an average of 105 COVID-19 ICU patients per day.

Officials also reported 10 new deaths Wednesday. In addition to Canyon County, whose total of COVID-related deaths is now 270, fatalities were reported in the following counties: Ada (1 new, 428 total), Bonneville (2 new, 143 total), Gooding (1 new, 25 total), Kootenai (1 new, 173 total) and Power (1 new, 8 total).

The Bonneville deaths were both women in their 70s, according to Eastern Idaho Public Health. The Power County death was a man in his 80s, Southeastern Public Health reported.

To date, Idaho has recorded 1,818 COVID-19 deaths.

The following Idaho counties reported new cases Wednesday: Ada (82 new, 39,153 total), Bannock (15 new, 4,603 total), Bear Lake (1 new, 245 total), Benewah (13 new, 444 total), Bingham (2 new, 2,518 total), Blaine (5 new, 1,927 total), Boise (1 new, 230 total), Bonner (15 new, 2,366 total), Bonneville (22 new, 8,659 total), Boundary (6 new, 390 total), Butte (1 new, 159 total), Canyon (29 new, 20,708 total), Elmore (5 new, 1,225 total), Fremont (2 new, 868 total), Gem (2 new, 1,321 total), Idaho (2 new, 878 total), Jefferson (4 new, 1,749 total), Jerome (1 new, 1,947 total), Kootenai (56 new, 14,553 total), Latah (2 new, 2,490 total), Madison (9 new, 5,374 total), Minidoka (2 new, 1,890 total), Nez Perce (3 new, 3,036 total), Owyhee (4 new, 870 total), Payette (2 new, 1,884 total), Shoshone (1 new, 931 total), Twin Falls (6 new, 6,932 total) and Valley (3 new, 636 total).

Officials removed one COVID-19 case in Gooding County on Wednesday, for a total of 905 cases there.

To date, Idaho has reported 136,914 confirmed and 31,543 probable cases of COVID-19. More than 90,000 people are presumed to have recovered.

ADA COUNTY OUT OF SCHOOL ‘RED ZONE’ FOR FIRST TIME IN MONTHS

Boise-based Central District Health on Tuesday released its biweekly school health alerts, and for the first time in months, Ada County was in the “yellow” category.

The school category reports are based on the two-week average of COVID-19 in each of the four counties that are part of Central District Health (Ada, Boise, Elmore and Valley). The categories of green, yellow or red correspond to the COVID-19 case rate per 100,000 residents in that county.

For months, Ada County has been in the red category, with case rates of at least 20 per 100,000 residents. On Tuesday, it just barely qualified for the yellow category with 19.64 cases per 100,000 residents. That means Ada County’s three school districts — Boise, West Ada and Kuna — are advised to have “school buildings open but option of limited/staggered use of school buildings with physical distancing and sanitation,” rather than the “minimal use of school buildings and limited in-person instruction” that is recommended in the red category. The county has been in the red category since early October.

The Boise School District has a meeting at 4 p.m. Thursday at which the board will discuss in-person learning options for the spring.

Valley County remains the only Central District Health county still in the red category. Its case rate is 30.10 per 100,000 residents. (Central District Health offered different recommendations for Valley and Boise counties due to their smaller populations, so below 30 would get them into the yellow category.)

SOUTHWEST DISTRICT LIFTS PUBLIC HEALTH ADVISORY

In response to improving coronavirus numbers, Southwest District Health lifted its COVID-19 public health advisory for all six counties in its jurisdiction, according to a news release from the Caldwell-based health district.

The advisory did not offer mandates, but gave “strong recommendations” for people in Adams, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette and Washington counties to wear masks, physically distance and follow health guidelines. Members of the SWDH board implemented the advisory on Nov. 20 after a surge in coronavirus cases, opting to recommend the wearing of masks rather than imposing a mandate. Though the advisory was officially lifted Friday, SWDH officials say that doesn’t mean the recommendations are gone, according to SWDH spokesperson Katrina Williams.

The health district still encourages everyone in its six county-jurisdiction to follow recommendations in their respective county according to its COVID-19 Health Alert Level. As of Wednesday, all counties in the SWDH jurisdiction were listed in the “yellow” category except Gem County, which is listed in “orange,” meaning a higher risk than yellow.

Both categories recommend the wearing of masks and cloth face coverings.

SWDH officials moved to lift the advisory after seeing a decline in cases, as the daily districtwide incidence rate was 2.22 per 10,000 population.

DAILY DETAILS

Vaccine doses administered in Idaho: 268,011, according to Health and Welfare. Of those, 124,653 people have received only their first dose.

Overall hospitalizations: Health and Welfare reports that there have been 6,947 hospitalizations of people with COVID-19, 1,214 admissions to the ICU and 9,333 health care workers infected. Hospital and health care numbers are based on cases with completed investigations into contacts, not the full number of positives.

St. Luke’s Health System: As of Feb. 16, the health system was reporting 30 patients in its hospitals with confirmed COVID-19 out of 453 patients overall. The health system reported a 14-day coronavirus test positivity rate of 5%.

Saint Alphonsus Health System: As of Feb. 16, the health system was reporting 25 patients in its hospitals with confirmed COVID-19 out of 319 patients overall. The health system reported a 14-day coronavirus test positivity rate of 8.2%.

Testing totals: Health and Welfare reported that 626,676 people had been tested statewide. About 21.8% of those have been positive for COVID-19.

Boise School District: Reported confirmed cases since Feb. 16: Borah High (3), Frank Church High (1), Riverside Elementary (1), Timberline High (1), West Junior High (2).

West Ada School District: Reported confirmed cases for Feb. 3-16: Centennial High (4), Central Academy (1), Eagle High (2), Meridian High (1), Renaissance High (1), Lake Hazel Middle (3), Lewis and Clark Middle (1), Victory Middle (1), Cecil D. Andrus Elementary (2), Hillsdale Elementary (1), Mary McPherson Elementary (1), Pepper Ridge Elementary (1), River Valley Elementary (1), Silver Sage Elementary (1), Summerwind STEM Academy (1).

Counties with confirmed COVID-19 cases: Ada 39,153, Adams 247, Bannock 4,603, Bear Lake 245, Benewah 444, Bingham 2,518, Blaine 1,927, Boise 230, Bonner 2,366, Bonneville 8,659, Boundary 390, Butte 159, Camas 52, Canyon 20,708, Caribou 327, Cassia 2,427, Clark 44, Clearwater 746, Custer 175, Elmore 1,225, Franklin 844, Fremont 868, Gem 1,321, Gooding 905, Idaho 878, Jefferson 1,749, Jerome 1,947, Kootenai 14,553, Latah 2,490, Lemhi 396, Lewis 276, Lincoln 370, Madison 5,374, Minidoka 1,890, Nez Perce 3,036, Oneida 212, Owyhee 870, Payette 1,884, Power 454, Shoshone 931, Teton 607, Twin Falls 6,932, Valley 636, Washington 846.

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