Friday, April 23, 2021
Blaine County’s Risk Dips, Deaths Plummet, A Minister of Loneliness
At least we have Baldy to occupy us during the pandemic. Sandra Flattery took this picture of her buds from Seattle Ridge on what she called a perfect day of skiing.
Friday, February 26, 2021




Blaine County’s COVID positivity rate dipped big time this past week.

Idaho reported 306 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday for a total of 170,595. Ten more Idahoans have died for a total of 1,850. Blaine County has reported eight new cases for a total of 2,157.

That has dropped the county ‘s risk for the spread of COVID from critical to high, according to the risk assessment by the Harvard Global Health Institute.

The county’s test positivity was 3.93 percent between Feb. 14 and 20, below the 7.22 it was the week before. That means fewer people who are getting tested—and, remember, Blaine County tests a lot of asymptomatic people—actually have COVID.

It’s also under the 5 percent level that health experts say a community should strive to be under to feel like it can breathe again without inhaling COVID drops.

Blaine County averaged 19.9 new cases per 100,000 residents during that week, down from an average 44.1 new cases per 100,000 people the week before

 Seven people between the ages of 40 and 49 and seven between 14 and 17 tested positive this past week. Four people 70 and older and between the ages of 18 and 29 tested positive. Three people between 60 and 69 tested positive and two each in the age categories of 50 to 59, 30 to 39 and 5 to 10. One child between the ages of 0 and four tested positive and zero 11- to 13-year-olds tested positive.

COVID is currently having minimal impact on the ability of local and regional health care facilities to treat patients.


To date 227,519 Idahoans have received at least one dose of vaccine and 108,502 have gotten both.

So far, 5,164 Blaine County residents have gotten at least one dose and 1,796 have gotten both. That’s a quarter of the 23,000 residents who are believed to live in Blaine County.


Nationwide, nursing home deaths fell by more than 60 percent between late December and early February as nursing home residents and staff were among the first to be vaccinated.

The decline in deaths happened surprisingly fast, Yale University epidemiologist Dr. Sunil Parikh told the New York Times. And it happened before most residents and employees had received both of their shots.

Another doctor, Dr. Aaron Richterman of the University of Pennsylvania, said he was amazed at reports of zero hospitalizations among those vaccinated in study after study of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which could get the FDA’s approval today.

But, we’re not out of the woods. Nationwide, the number of new COVID cases has stopped declining. Health officials attribute the uptick to the new variants.


While the COVID-19 vaccines won’t eliminate the novel coronavirus, studies show they will allow a return to normalcy, says the New York Times.

Israel recently looked at 602,000 Israelis who have been vaccinated and found that only 21 later contracted the virus and had to be hospitalized.

Only 3.5 out of every 100,000 people vaccinated there were later hospitalized with COVID symptoms. By comparison, during a typical flu season in the United States 150 out of every 100,000 people are hospitalized with flu symptoms.


More than 2,400 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine went to waste in Tennessee this past month when officials sat on shots they thought had already gone into arms.


Japan has appointed a Minister for Loneliness in the wake of that country’s rising suicide rate.  The government also created an isolation/loneliness countermeasures office.

Suicides among women have risen for the first time in a decade because of the pandemic.


A vacation to Yellowstone National Park in the 1960s led to one of the keys that made COVID-19 tests possible. The Milwaukee News-Sentinel reports that a microbiologist began a decades-long research project on life at high temperatures after pondering the microbes in one of the park’s hot springs.

Thermus aquaticus, which thrives in waters above 70 Celsius, turned out to possess the key ingredient for the polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, that is being used to detect the novel coronavirus.

Microbiologist Tom Brock said his research was criticized 60 years ago for being “not very important, just a tourist attraction.”


We all know the flu has been nonexistent in the Wood River Valley this year, thanks to people wearing masks, washing hands and generally avoiding one another.

So far, just 155 Americans have ended up in the hospitals with influenza, compared with hundreds of thousands in a normal year. Only one child has died of the flu compared with 78 children at this point last year.

But we’re not out of the woods. A low influenza season in the Southern Hemisphere saw an uptick towards the end. And that could be repeated in the United States come April, says the Centers for Disease Control.

P.S. It’s not too late to get a flu shot.


~  Today's Topics ~

Idaho’s COVID Picture Improves as Some Places Get Creative With Vaccines

Blaine County’s Risk Assessment, Burning Man Mulls Vaccines

Golf Kicks Off This Weekend, Ice Shows and Mountain Biking to Follow









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