Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Idaho Cautiously Begins Reopening as COVID Cases Decrease
While the pandemic continues, a bunch of Good Samaritans at St. Thomas Episcopal Church continue to hand out take-away dinners of meatloaf, lasagna and other hearty entrees, along with dessert and salad provided by Sun Valley Resort’s Village Station. The service piggybacking on the Ketchum Community Dinners is offered from 5 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays.
Wednesday, February 3, 2021



Local groups like the Sun Valley Opera could soon see a return to live concerts.

Gov. Brad Little announced Tuesday that the state will move from Stage 2 to Stage 3 of its coronavirus reopening plan, thanks to decreasing new infections and hospitalizations across the state. The state has been in Stage 2 since November when hospitals began being overrun with patients.

Idaho reported 491 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday for a total of 163,656. 1,741

The move to Stage 3 means that gathering sizes will rise from 10 to 50 people. Sporting events, religious  gatherings, political rallies, education and healthcare activities are exempt from group limits.

Other large events, such as trade shows and weddings with more than 50 people may receive an exemption if the organizer submits plans to the local public health district confirming the event will follow necessary physical distancing and other safety protocols.

Bars and restaurants and nightclubs will continue to operate with seating only.

“When we moved back to Stage 2 in November, case counts were spiking and hospitals were bracing for the worst. Today, thanks to our collective good efforts, those case counts are much lower and trending downward. Idaho now has one of the lowest rates of spread in the nation,” Little said. “However, moving forward to Stage 3 is not a signal to let up on our collective good efforts.”

Blaine County edged closer to the 2,000 mark, reporting another 20 new cases for 1,988 all told.

Idaho has not yet confirmed any of the highly transmissible mutant COVID strains, even though every surrounding state but Montana has. But that might be because the state has to send test samples out of state, possibly delaying detection.

The state is struggling to vaccinate its residents.

Idaho is one of two states that have vaccinated less than 6 percent of its population, according to the Centers for Disease Control. And it's last in the country for the total number of vaccines it's administered.

Earlier in the week, Idaho was among 16 states that has used less than half of the vaccine doses shipped to it. Other states include Alabama, Wisconsin, Kansas, Hawaii, Arizona, Pennsylvania, California, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nebraska and Ohio.

The CDC acknowledged some of that could involve a lag in reporting.

In contrast, North Dakota and West Virginia had administered more than three-quarters of their doses.

As of Tuesday, Idaho had received 221,550 doses of vaccine and 120,400 doses had been administered. That left 101,000 doses that had not been administered, the director of Health and Welfare told reporters on Tuesday.

Of those, 22,000 were first doses, and they’re generally getting administered within a week of being received, said Dave Jeppesen. But there were 47,500 second doses that have not been administered.

“That’s higher than we were expecting so we have some work to do to understand what’s happening with second doses,” he said.

CVS and Walgreens, which had been tasked with vaccinating nursing home residents and providers, had another 32,000 first and second doses that had not been administered. The state reallocated 12,600 doses that had not been administered by CVS this week to the state’s seven health districts. It will work with Walgreens this week to reallocate its unused doses.

The state opened up vaccination eligibility to 269,000 Idahoans 65 and older this week. It will take months to get all those who wish to be vaccinated in this group taken care of, Jeppesen said.

The amount the health districts receive is based on the groups they’re currently vaccinating. The department looks at the population estimates for those groups and allocates doses accordingly.

Public Health Administrator Elke Shaw-Tulloch noted that having Idahoans have to continually check websites like St. Luke’s myChart is “definitely a challenging and imperfect system,” particularly for the elderly who may not be as adept at using computers and smart phones. But, she said, it should improve as the state gets more vaccines.

Idaho has gotten fewer vaccines than the state’s health officials had initially expected.

Part of that is because the allocation has been based on the population of adults 18 and older, not the total population, said Jeppesen. And Idaho has the second highest percentage of children in the country.

“And, being a rapidly growing state we’re not where we need to be in terms of allocation,” he added. “We’re asking as we go forward that we get that recalibrated.”

Next week the federal government will begin distributing 1 million doses a week to 6,500 pharmacies across the country. Participating pharmacies include Costco, Walgreens, Walmart, Rite Aid, CVS and Albertsons and other supermarket pharmacies.

The federal government will alco increase the number of doses it is shipping to states and territories from 10 million to 10.5 million doses on top of that.

Little said the state could receive up to 3,000 more vaccine doses each week, which he says could bring the state's weekly allocation to 27,000.

As of Tuesday morning, 107,661 Idahoans have received at least one dose; 24,248 have received both. In Blaine County 2,247 people have been vaccinated.

Between 70 percent and 85 percent of Americans need to be fully vaccinated for a return to normal, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci. So far, fewer than 2 percent of Americans have received both doses.







~  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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