Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Idaho Gets More Vaccine as Blaine County Suffers Worst Case Rate Since Spring
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Ketchum resident Jean Enersen found that the three feet of snow that fell in 24 hours in Sun Valley provided a nice tool for physical distancing as people generally weren’t out and about. Unless, of course, you were on Baldy where snow three and four feet deep stopped many skiers in their tracks.
   
Friday, January 29, 2021
 

STORY BY KAREN BOSSICK

GRAPH BY PAUL RIES

Idaho’s weekly allotment of vaccine doses has been increased by 16 percent to 24,000. And Gov. Brad Little has signed an executive order making sure those doses get in people’s arms within seven days of their arrival in Idaho.

“There are questions about whether vaccines are being administered quickly enough,” Little told reporters Thursday afternoon. “To shine more light on vaccine administration and increase transparency, I’m signing a new executive ordered named the Transparency in the Administration of COVID-19 Vaccine executive order.

 
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Idaho gained 508 new COVID cases on Thursday for a total of 161,720. Seven more Idahoans have died of COVID bringing the death toll to 1,721. Blaine reported 16 new cases of COVID on Thursday for a total of 1,924.
 

The order will require healthcare providers and public health districts to report how many doses of the vaccine they have been allotted and how many shots have been administered. That information will appear on a new dashboard that will debut on Monday, Feb. 8, at coronavirus.idaho.gov, Little said.

“You’ll be able to see in practically real time how many doses a provider has received, administered and has in inventory,” he added. “If a provider is not administering the vaccine quick enough, we will step in to make sure they speed things up.”

Little said he queried the Biden administration this week about why Idaho has gotten fewer doses per capita than other states since the federal government began distributing them. He learned that Idaho’s allotment of doses is based on its adult population, not its total population.

Idaho has the second highest percentage of children in the country, he noted.

Little said he also does not know if the government is going by the most recent population count or a previous one.

“If they take the current July 1 count, we would get more,” he said. “We will continue to work on that.”

Little said CVS and Walgreens, which have been charged with vaccinating those in long-term care facilities, have said they will have gotten a shot in the arms of those they’re responsible by the end of the month—90 days after nursing home residents became eligible.

Their reporting lags behind vaccine distribution, he said. Walgreens, for instance, reports to its own system, then another, then to the federal government before Idaho gets the report.

Little said the state has provided new resources to providers to motivate them to get the vaccine into arms. While the vaccine is free to those who get it, providers get $15 for each first dose they administer and $25 for each second dose. Little said he also suspects that some providers are hanging onto vaccines in anticipation of those 65 and older becoming eligible for the vaccine on Monday.

“I believe by the end of next week a lot of that vaccine will be handed out.”

But, with the state receiving 24,000 first doses every week, along with 18,000 second doses, there is a big gap between demand and supply.

Little said those living out of state—say, residents of Clarkston, Wash., who work in Lewiston--will not be turned down if they seek the vaccine in Idaho.

“If they work on one side and live on another, they get their vaccine,” he said.

Little said he hopes to see another ramping up of vaccine allotment in a few weeks, after the most recent increase jumped the number of doses from about 21,000 to 24,000.

“We know that Astra Zeneca and Johnson & Johnson are in the queue. I keep doing the math about when are we going to get to 70 or 80 percent vaccinated so we can get back to normal as Idahoans want. I think we will have vaccinated over half of Idahoans by late spring or summer, but it depends on those two vaccines.”

Twenty-two million Americans have been vaccinated without any serious problems, save for a few allergic reactions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And some providers have gone to great lengths to make sure vaccines are not wasted.

Just this week, for instance, health officials in Josephine County, Ore.—home to Grants Pass—got out of their cars and administered vaccines to six drivers stuck on the side of the road during a snowstorm. The vaccines were close to expiration when they got caught in traffic due to inclement weather.

BLAINE COUNTY SEES WORST CASE SCENARIO

The vaccines can’t come fast enough for the Wood River Valley.

Blaine County reported 120 new cases of COVID during the past week.

The county is experiencing its worst case rate since spring, and it’s beginning to make those at the local hospital nervous. The county remains at the red, or critical risk, level according to Harvard Global Health Institute metrics.

The county averaged 82.5 new cases per 100,000 residents between Jan. 17 and 23, compared with 63.9 the week before and 27.9 the week before that.

Its test positivity rate is 13.08 percent, up from 12.34 percent, meaning that the percentage of people testing positive for COVID continues to climb.

A whopping 40 adults between the ages of 18 and 29 tested positive during the week, followed by 24 between 40 and 49.

Fourteen residents between the ages of 60 and 69 tested positive; 13 each between the ages of 50 and 59 and 30 and 39, and 10 between 11 and 13.

There were eight each among those 70 and older and between 14 and 17 years of age and three among youth between the ages of 5 and 10.

Many of the cases are coming from small gatherings where people aren’t social distancing, according to Brianna Bodily, public information officer for South Central Public Health District. There’s also concern that tourists may be unintentionally spreading the virus.

Idaho, in contrast, is trending downward—its daily case average down 70 percent from its peak in December. The state reported just over 3,800 new cases the week of Jan. 20 to 26—the fewest cases since early October. That’s down from 10,000 cases during the first couple weeks of December.

Magic Valley also is doing better. It reported 374 new COVID cases between Jan. 20 and 26, its cases  falling 75 percent since a high of 1,500 cases one week in early November, according to the Twin Falls Times-News.

Statewide hospitalizations have reverted to what they were in October with 250 people hospitalized with COVID-19 compared to 500 in early December. And St. Luke’s Magic Valley has had 13 to 18 COVID hospitalizations a day during the past two weeks—less than half of what it had in November.

 

~  Today's Topics ~


Idaho Wants Proof You Live or Work Here if You Want a Vaccine

Idaho to Ramp Up Vaccines as Second Variant Case Reported

Zoom into Your Pandemic Garden
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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