Thursday, August 13, 2020
Hospitalizations Climb as Idaho Stays Stalled in Stage Four
Bas Verheijen and Colette Evans were masked at the Boulder Mountai Clayworks fundraiser in alignment with local mask mandates as they turned out to support one of their daughter Esmee’s favorite organizations.
Friday, July 24, 2020


Idaho will remain in Stage Four of its reopening plan for at least two more weeks due to an upward trend in new cases and a 13.6 percent positivity test rate.

It didn’t help that the state saw its deadliest day yet on Wednesday with nine new deaths—including five in Ada County, two in Canyon and one each in Blaine and Twin Falls.

The state has been stalled in Stage Four since entering it June 13. Most everything is open in Stage Four, however.

Idaho gained 414 new cases of coronavirus bringing its total to 16,736. Twin Falls County is approaching a thousand cases with 983 after 23 new cases on Thursday.

The uncertainty prompted the Blaine County School Board trustees to push the first day of school for students back to Sept. 8, according to Trustee Lara Stone. They had been slated to start school the week of Aug. 17.

Gov. Brad Little stopped short of requiring Idahoans to wear face coverings, as has been mandated in several Idaho cities including Hailey, Ketchum, Sun Valley, Bellevue, Victor, McCall, Boise and Moscow. Three counties—Ada, Teton and Bonneville—also mandate masks.

Hard hit Kootenai County, home to Coeur d'Alena, mandated masks Thursday evening. But the Southwest District Board of Health on Thursday stopped short of mandating masks despite the fact that  Canyon County has more cases per capita than any other place in Idaho.

Little said that the localized approach is best as the infection rates varies throughout the state with some rural areas reporting no confirmed cases and more urbanized area seeing the virus spiral out of control.

For some reason, Paul Ries notes, health officials subtracted two cases from Blaine County’s total, reducing it to 560. You could say we’re bending the curve if only for a day.

But he did ask his fellow citizens to wear masks to prevent the virus from spreading, touting them as a virus stopper, a way to show pride in Idaho, a display of patriotism and a way to keep businesses open and allow kids to return to school this fall.

“We’re not where we want to be with the coronavirus situation in Idaho,” he said at a press conference Thursday morning. “Wear a mask to protect lives.”

Health officials have attributed the initial surge of infections to young adults who ignored social distancing and didn’t wear face coverings as they started crowding into bars as the state moved into Stage Three.

Older Idahoans subsequently became infected, many of them requiring hospitalization.

The state has recorded 33 deaths in the eight days through Wednesday, bring its total to 136 by Wednesday. The state added four more deaths on Thursday. Three were in Ada County; the fourth, in Canyon County.

Ada has had 44; Canyon County, 23, and Twin Falls County, 26. Nez Perce County has had 19.

Blaine County saw its sixth resident die this week--the first since April 8. The woman was identified as a Bellevue resident between the ages of 50 and 59. She died at St. Luke's Magic Valley.

Statewide cases climbed by 414 to 16,736. Twenty-five of the recent cases can be attributed to a cluster at the Twin Falls County jail. The sheriff is awaiting the results of 254 additional tests.

The state had 674 hospitalizations through July 22 with 18 admitted on Wednesday; 201 of those patients were admitted to the ICU with four new patients requiring intensive care Wednesday. The total number of intensive care beds has dropped to 74—the second lowest since the pandemic began.

The number of people hospitalized in the Magic Valley due to COVID-19 has held steady the past few weeks. But doctors fear cases in Boise and Nampa-Caldwell could spill over. And some Magic Valley staff have been asked to help out in Ada and Canyon counties, and some doctors and nurses are taking extra shifts.

St. Luke’s system is running 25 percent above normal capacity due to both COVID-19 and other patients.

Thirty-three more health care workers tested positive for the virus on Wednesday, bringing the total infected since March to 980. Nearly a thousand health care workers have been infected.

More than 13 percent of tests for COVID are showing positive, indicating that the disease is widespread. Health officials would like to see it under 5 percent.

Nationwide, the total number of coronavirus cases reported in the United States passed 4 million Thursday. Health officials said this week it could be six to 24 times higher considering those who weren’t tested and those who never showed symptoms.

It took the country 98 days to reach a million cases but just 16 days to go from 3 million to 4 million with the average number of new cases rising by 2,600-plus every hour, according to Reuters.

The Caldwell School District announced it will delay the start of the school year by a week to Aug. 27 or 28 due to the spread of the virus in Canyon County. The district plans to use a blended learning model for middle and high school students that involves an alternating schedule with students attending in-person classes two days a week and learning online the other three days.

Elementary school students will attend school four days a week, learning online the fifth day.



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