Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Vets Head to Boise for Vaccines, Blaine County Heads in Wrong Direction
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Galena Lodge has been uncharacteristically empty this year as skiers enjoy their wraps and soups outside on the deck because of the pandemic.
   
Friday, January 22, 2021
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

GRAPH BY PAUL RIES

As vaccines continue to roll out, some Blaine County veterans are heading to Boise to get vaccines.

Department of Defense facilities get a separate federal-level allotment, according to Niki Forbing-Orr, public information manager for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

 
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Idaho’s new cases of coronavirus continue to be below a thousand finally with 612 new cases for a total of 158,200. Seventeen Idahoans have died of COVID in the past couple days for a total of 1,654 deaths. Blaine County continues to be out of control, though, with 19 new cases for a total of 1,803.
 

So far, the number of doses the Boise V.A. has administered have not shown up on Idaho’s vaccine dashboard. But the state is trying to work with federal partners to get that data.

The Boise VA Medical Center is offering COVID-19 vaccines to enrolled veterans. Those who qualify should call their primary care team to schedule an appointment for a vaccine. Vaccines will be given to priority veterans first based on their risks associated with contracting COVID-19.

Currently, the VA is offering vaccines to veterans living in VA care facilities, VA Health care personnel and veterans who are at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 based on age and existing health problems like diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

For more information, visit https://www.va.gov/health-care/covid-19-vaccine/

St. Luke's, meanwhile, has administered 16,970 doses so far through its hospitals--13,530 of them primary doses and 3,440 of them booster shots. Local hospital staff just started getting their second shots.

BLAINE COUNTY SEES RED

While the vast majority of Blaine County residents await a vaccine, Blaine County continues to trend in the wrong direction. This is happening even as new cases of coronavirus in Idaho and nearby Twin Falls County are trending down.

The county’s average new case rate has more than doubled in the past week and the positivity rate continues to rise as well, keeping the county in the Critical Red Zone, according to the Harvard Global Health Institute’s metrics.

The county had 63.9 average new cases per 100,000 residents during the week between Jan. 10 and 16. That’s more than double the 27.9 cases the week before.

Its test positivity rate is 12.34 percent, up from 7.51 the week before. That means more than 12 of every 100 people being tested for coronavirus are positive. Anything above 5 percent indicates there’s a big risk of community spread.

Twenty-seven people between the ages of 18 and 29 tested positive during the week of Jan. 10-16. Sixteen between the ages of 40 and 49 tested positive; 15 between 50 and 59, 13 between 14 and 17 and 12 between 60 and 69.

Five people over the age of 70 tested positive; three between 11 and 13, two between 0 and 4 and zero between 5 and 10.

Investigations show that many of these cases are still coming from small gatherings where people aren’t social distancing, said Brianna Bodily, public information officer for South Central Public Health District.

“We do have an outbreak in a long-term care facility, but that is only a small percentage of the cases in Blaine County,” she added.

Bodily said there is concern that the heavy tourism season is bringing in more people from outside of the county who are unintentionally spreading the virus, as well.

“But, because we aren't informed when a non-resident becomes sick, we don't have any data to support or deny that concern,” she added.

 

COVID TONGUE

 

That’s the newest symptom that seems to be developing, according to an epidemiologist at King’s College London.

The epidemiologist told the Times of India that he’s seeing an increasing number of COVID patients with white patches all over their tongues and strange mouth ulcers. Normally, the tongue gets back to normal within a week, but it can cause serious infection. If you see those symptoms, it’s important to get tested and treated.

VACCINE LATTE, ANYONE?

The state of Washington has asked Starbucks for help streamlining its vaccine rollout for its 7.6 million people as the state sets a goal of administering 45,000 doses a day.

Starbucks employees will use the company’s computer simulation modeling system to find ways to expedite inoculations. Meanwhile, Microsoft has set up a site to perform 5,000 vaccinations a day.

With the state now vaccinating those over 65, some Blaine County part-timers have headed back to Washington to get their shots.

SKIPPING THE MIDDLE MAN

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to buy doses directly from Pfizer, given the failed promises of Operation Warp Speed. Pfizer says it would need the okay of the federal government to do so, even though it was not part of the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed program.

In San Antonio, all 9,000 available slots for vaccinations were taken within six minutes of the time registration opened. Mississippi has allocated all of its doses and its residents won’t get a chance at the vaccine again until mid-February, according to ABC News.

STARTING FROM SCRATCH

 

A member of the Biden administration’s vaccine task force has said that the administration will have to build a vaccine distribution plan from scratch because, apparently, the former administration had no distribution strategy.

The administration says it will not follow through on a Trump administration plan to penalize states lagging behind in administering vaccinations by shifting some of their allocation to more efficient states.

“We’re not looking to pit one state against another,” the official told the Associated Press.

RETURNING SPECTATORS

Gov. Brad Little has instructed the State Board of Education to revise its school athletic plan to allow more spectators to attend basketball games and other sporting events. His directive comes as Idaho is seeing a decline in its COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

IS THE MORE CONTAGIOUS VIRUS IN IDAHO?

Idaho has joined the national Strain Surveillance project to keep watch out for new, more contagious strains of COVID-19. The state is sending some of its positive COVID-19 tests to out-of-state lab which will screen them.


 

 

 

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