A closer look at Idaho’s rising coronavirus case numbers

Coronavirus cases are rising across the nation, and Idaho is no exception.

As the delta variant raises new concerns about coronavirus spread, weeks before the start of the 2021-22 school year, here are some key Idaho numbers.

New cases: As of Friday evening, the state and its seven health districts reported 196,958 confirmed or probable coronavirus cases, up 1,017 cases over the week. It’s the first week since late May that new cases eclipsed the 1,000 mark.

By contrast, Idaho reported 655 new cases from July 3 through July 9.

Child cases: No major changes. Last week, the state reported 98 cases among school-aged children, 5 to 17 years old. Child cases still account for slightly less than 10 percent of all COVID-19 cases.

Young adult cases: Again, no major changes. In all, 18- to 29-year-olds accounted for 269 new cases. This cohort — which includes traditional college-aged students — continue to account for nearly a fourth of all coronavirus cases.

Hospitalization numbers: Also trending upward. On Wednesday, Idaho hospitals reported 123 confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients, up from 82 patients a week earlier. During that same one-week period, COVID-19-related ICU admissions also increased, from 21 to 40.

Deaths: As of Friday, 2,174 Idahoans have died from COVID-19, including nine deaths in the past week. Seven Idahoans died from COVID-19 the previous week. Deaths are considered a lagging indicator of the disease spread: that is, they tend to increase several weeks after a spike in cases.

Positive test rates: Also increasing. According to the state’s most recent numbers — and they’re for the week ending July 10 — 4.3 percent of coronavirus tests came back positive. That’s still below the 5 percent threshold that health experts watch closely; positivity rates above that mark suggest an unchecked disease spread. But the positivity rate has increased from 3.6 percent for the week ending July 3.

Vaccination numbers: Still inching along. The state administered slightly more than 15,500 doses for the week, adding about 8,700 people to the ranks of the fully vaccinated.

All told, 45 percent of Idahoans aged 12 and older are fully vaccinated. But the numbers are far lower for school-aged children and college-aged young adults: 14 percent for 12- to 15-year-olds; 25 percent for 16- and 17-year-olds; 32 percent for 18- to 24-year-olds.

Since Jan. 1, nearly all of the state’s coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and COVID-19 deaths involve people with no record of receiving a vaccine, state Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen wrote in a recent blog.

Delta numbers: Low, but likely incomplete. The state has confirmed nine cases of the new and more contagious variant, but the state has limited lab capacity to identify specific strains.

“Our in-state capabilities are expanding so more samples can be sequenced, but it’s very likely that COVID-19 variants are circulating widely in Idaho,” Jeppesen wrote.

About Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on KIVI 6 On Your Side; "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television; and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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