Sunday, April 18, 2021
Blaine County’s COVID Rate Improves but Idaho Boasts Nation’s Hot Spots
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Jesse Foster, a physical therapist with St. Luke’s Wood River, sports a clear face mask that doctors and nurses have for use with patients who are deaf or otherwise hearing-impaired.
   
Saturday, March 20, 2021
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

GRAPH BY PAUL RIES

Blaine County’s risk for COVID-19 has downshifted to “moderate” from “high” after four days with no new cases of coronavirus.

But Idaho Falls and Rexburg are the nation’s hot spots, according to the latest data provided by Johns Hopkins.

 
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Idaho reported 383 new cases of coronavirus on Friday for a total of 177,185. Twelve Idahoans have died in the past two days for a total of 1,941. Blaine County has reported eight new cases in the past two days for a total of 2,214.
 

Idaho Falls is the top COVID-19 hotspot in the nation, according to the New York Times, with 55.9 new daily cases per 1,000 people. Rexburg is third with New York City sandwiched in between. Health officials say virus cases spiked after officials lifted local mask mandates.

Bonneville County has gone from a weekly average of 20 new cases per 100,000 population to more than 60.  And Madison County has averaged 50 new cases per 100,000 weekly since before the new year.

Blaine County, by contrast, is averaging 5.4 new cases per week right now and has been under 20 new cases for some time. The improvement is helping elementary schools in the Blaine County School District return to a full five-day week after Spring Break.

An official at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center said his hospital has been pushed to capacity as the area has been averaging more cases than Ada County, which has four times the population.

“We have been using overflow and we beg, borrow and steal beds from elsewhere in the hospital,” Dr. Kenneth Krell told KTVB. “Nurses are working 18-hour shifts.”

The difference this time around, he added, is that fewer of the COVID patients are over 65 what now that many of those 65 and older have been vaccinated.

The state’s case numbers have been worsening, as well. Idaho ranks 13th on a list of 15 of the current hot spots for the virus, according to Johns Hopkins. Michigan, Delaware and Montana lead the list with Michigan’s cases increasing more than 50 percent this week and Montana 34 percent.

Idaho has had 10,013 COVID cases per 100,000 people, compared with Vermont’s 2,722, Oregon’s 3,819  and Washington’s 4,651.

The Idaho Legislature had to suspend operations until April 6 on Friday after eight legislators tested positive. /to date 14 COVID-19 infections have occurred within the Capitol Building.

BLAINE COUNTY A BRIGHT SPOT

Blaine County’s average new case rate has dropped into the moderate risk tier. And its positivity test rate has dropped, now sitting on the low end of the moderate risk tier.

The county averaged 6.8 new cases per 100,000 residents between March 7-13—down from 18.0 new cases the week before. Its positive rate is 1.95 percent, down from 5.89 percent the week before.

Three people between the ages of 40 and 49 tested positive between March 7-13. There were two new cases each among 30 to 39-year-olds and those 5 to 10 years old.

There was one new case each among those ages 60-69, 50-59, 18-29 and 0-4. There were no new cases among those 70 and older, 14-17 and 11-13.

The county’s four days with no new cases was the first time that’s happened since Sept. 4, according to The Eye’s graph analyst Paul Ries. And its seven-day moving average is the lowest it’s been since mid-September.

No variants have been identified in the county, although variants have been found in Idaho.

VACCINATION GOAL SURPASSED

Nearly one in eight Americans, or 12 percent of the U.S. population, are now fully vaccinated. That’s 40 million people, if you’re keeping count. The White House announced Friday that it had hit President’s Biden’s goal of 100 million COVID-19 shots, 42 days ahead of the target date of 100 days from taking office.

Idaho ranks 42nd among states for its vaccination rate, with 19.9 percent of its residents having received at least one dose. Twelve percent are fully vaccinated. Utah is right behind. The worse six are Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Washington, D.C., Texas and Arkansas.

New Mexico leads the states, having vaccinated 29.7 percent of its population as of March 16. Of those, 17.2 percent are fully vaccinated. Alaska, South Dakota, Connecticut and Rhode Island round out the top five.

COULD VACCINES HELP LONG HAULERS?

Some of those who have been suffering from long-haul COVID-19 symptoms for months say their symptoms, which include brain fog and loss of taste and smell, have disappeared or subsided since receiving their vaccinations.

One doctor told The Washington Post that it’s possible the vaccine’s heightened immune response could clear lingering virus fragments.


 

 

 

 

 

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