Tuesday, July 27, 2021
 
 
Unvaccinated Idahoans Urged to Fend Off the Delta Variant
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The American Academy of Pediatrics is urging schools to require facemasks for those older than 2 this coming fall.
   
Thursday, July 22, 2021
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

Idaho is headed in the wrong direction in its battle against COVID, Idaho’s director of Health and Welfare told reporters Tuesday.

Dave Jeppesen told reporters during a virtual press conference that the number of COVID-19 cases has begun to rise, as it has in every state in the nation. The statewide seven-day moving average in cases per 100000 rose from a low of 3.3 on July 5 to 8.2 on Monday, July 19.

COVID testing positivity has increased from a low of 2.8 percent to 4.3 percent—just under the 5 percent red flag level.

Jeppesen added that the number of cases in long-term care facilities has increased from a low of 14 to 21 and that the number of people hospitalized with COVID has been increasing since July 1. Moreover, the number of COVID patients in intensive care has doubled since the first of the month.

About 99 percent of the COVID-19 cases in Idaho since the beginning of the year have involved people not fully vaccinated. What’s more, 98.6 percent of hospitalizations are people who were not fully vaccinated and 98.7 percent of COVID deaths were among those not fully vaccinated.

Data shows 122 Idahoans were hospitalized with COVID 19 on July 16, up from fewer than 70 in mid-June.

“This has become a pandemic for those who are unvaccinated,” said Jeppesen, urging the unvaccinated to get vaccinated.

About 700,000 Idahoans and 160-million-plus Americans have taken the vaccine so far, showing that the vaccines are safe and effective, he added.

Health officials attribute the surge in cases among those who are unvaccinated to the Delta variant, which originated in India and is a thousand times more contagious than the original strain. State Epidemiologist Christine Hahn said that 26 cases of Delta variant were detected in the state lab’s latest sampling and that there would probably have been more if the state was doing more testing.

“As we test more, we will continue to find more Delta variants,” she said. “We’re hoping Idahoans understand this as a warning that we do have Delta here, we do have numbers increasing and we continue to see more people in hospital so we urge them to get vaccinated.”

Jeppesen said the uptick in cases is very concerning as Idaho nears fall with the return of the flu season and more people returning to indoor activities.

State Public Health Administrator Elke Shaw-Tulloch said that parents should vaccinate children now if they want them to be fully vaccinated to attend in-person classes this fall. The more people who get vaccine the more protection for students and staff, she added

The American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending that schools require face masks for all children older than 2 since those under 12 are still not eligible for a vaccine. But some Idaho schools, including those in Boise, Nampa and Caldwell, have already determined they will not require masks or social distancing.

Hahn said there is no scientific evidence offering a reason children should not wear masks. It’s a policy decision, not a scientific one, she added.

Jeppesen said health officials will watch health care capacity to see if new COVID precautions need to be put in place.

“We’re hoping things turn around and get better but we will keep an eye on things and make recommendations as needed.”

COSTCO AND APPLE

Costco is responding to the surge in COVID-19 cases by reinstating its recently cancelled senior shopping hours. Those over 60 will be allowed to shop early from 9 to 10 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

And Apple is delaying employees’ return to the office by at least a month until October, according to Bloomberg.

OUR LIVES GET SHORTER

The life expectancy of Americans dropped 1.5 years in 2020 mainly due to COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Hispanic Americans’ life expectancy dropped by three years and Black Americans nearly as much.

The CDC attributed other reasons to diabetes, homicide and injuries.

 

 

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