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Billy Goat Loppet Can’t Outski Omicron
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Friday, January 21, 2022
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

The 2022 Billy Goat Loppet has been cancelled.

The race would have been held Saturday, Jan. 22, at Sun Valley Nordic Center. But organizers Jenny Busdon and Ted Angle thought it best to cancel the 10K freestyle loppet because of the surge of the Omicron virus in the Wood River Valley.

Busdon said they hope to bring back the race next year when they hope volunteers will feel more comfortable about interacting with crowds.

“Ted and I are so sorry we had to make this decision but we felt it was for the good of everyone involved,” she said. “No one wants to take the risk of getting sick from this fast-spreading Omicron variant. Tough decision but for the best, I think.”

STATE SETS MORE RECORDS

Blaine County has lost yet another resident to COVID. The woman was in her 70s and hospitalized with underlying health conditions. She was not vaccinated, and she was not a resident at a long-term care facility. This is the county's 28th official death from COVID.

The state of Idaho reported 3,555 cases on Tuesday, easily breaking the previous single-day record of 3,266 cases on Friday. Then it set yet another record of new daily cases with 4,537 on Wednesday. But those numbers are somewhat meaningless because 31,000 positive test cases have yet to be entered into the COVID dashboard, Idaho Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen told reporters this week.

The Twin Falls and Dietrich school districts have joined the ever-lengthening list of Idaho school districts closed because of illness. And Race to Robie organizers announced Thursday that they will require all racers and volunteers to have a COVID vaccination for the April 16 race starting in Boise and ending up in Robie Creek.

The new cases over the past couple weeks have been almost exclusively Omicron, said Dr. Christopher Ball, chief of the Idaho Bureau of Laboratories.

The state’s testing positivity rate of 25.7 percent for the week of Jan. 2-8 was the highest since the pandemic began making inroads in Idaho in March of 2020. Some providers are reporting positivity rates as high as 50 percent, said Jeppesen.

On Thursday the state reported that one in three Idahoans being tested for COVID are positive with a 34.1 percent positivity rate.

Five percent or lower is the target. Above that the virus is considered to be infecting a large percentage of the population.

The number of people hospitalized for COVID climbed from 257 on Jan. 1 to 378 on Jan. 12. Jeppesen said that some patients are spending more time in the hospital than they need to because long-term care facilities may not be able to take them back in timely fashion because so many staff are sick or quarantining with COVID.

Happily, the rate of new Omicron cases appear to be declining in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland and a few other states. Health officials said Idaho typically lags two to five weeks behind.


 

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