A dropoff, or a data delay? New case numbers decrease

Several coronavirus numbers showed some signs of improvement last week — including new case numbers.

But it’s hard to say exactly what’s driving the decrease in the case numbers.

As of Sunday, the state and its seven health districts reported 268,727 confirmed or probable coronavirus cases. The week’s 8,306 new cases represent an 11 percent decrease from the preceding week.

But last week, Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen and deputy state epidemiologist Kathleen Turner both told reporters they see no plateau in Idaho’s coronavirus surge.

The state’s coronavirus website still reports a backlog in processing cases. “Case data for the most recent two-week period are incomplete. Due to the recent surge in infections, case investigation data are missing for approximately 8,600 outstanding positive laboratory results that are pending local public health district review and followup.”

A week ago, the state reported a backlog involving 9,500 cases.

While the case numbers may be confusing, other metrics appeared to be slowly shifting away from grim pandemic peaks:

Child case numbers. For the week, 1,348 5- to 17-year-olds contracted coronavirus, a one-week decrease of 6 percent.

As of Wednesday, seven pediatric patients were hospitalized with COVID-19, down from a peak of 15 on Oct. 2.

No Idaho children have died of COVID-19.

Hospitalizations. Overall COVID-19 hospitalizations remain high, but they have tailed off somewhat from peak numbers during this current outbreak.

As of Wednesday, hospitals counted 709 COVID-19 admissions and 176 COVID-19 ICU patients. On Sept. 24, both numbers peaked at 793 and 213, respectively.

However, all Idaho hospitals continue to operate under crisis standards of care, which could allow overburdened hospitals to ration care.

Deaths. An unsettling milestone last week, as the state’s COVID-19 death toll eclipsed the 3,000 mark.

The state reported 159 COVID-19 deaths last week, down from a record 210 deaths the previous week.

In all, 3,122 Idahoans have died of COVID-19.

Positive test rates. A third successive week of decreases. For the seven-day period ending Oct. 2, 14.6 percent of coronavirus cases came back positive, down from 15.2 percent.

Test rates are considered a leading indicator of an outbreak, so the decline in test rates could be encouraging. However, any rate exceeding 5 percent is a sign of an outbreak that is out of control.

Vaccinations. Nearly 12,000 Idahoans completed their vaccinations last week.

Current vaccination rates:

  • Overall: 52.9 percent. (Last week: 52.1 percent.)
  • 12- to 15-year-olds: 29 percent. (Last week: 28 percent.)
  • 16- and 17-year-olds: 36 percent. (Last week: 35 percent.)
  • 18- to 24-year-olds: 41 percent. (Last week: 40 percent.)

K-12 thumbnails

Current case numbers, and one-week comparisons, as self-reported by several large districts:

  • Boise: 125 positive cases, down from 127 cases the previous week.
  • Bonneville: 21 active cases Monday, down from 32.
  • Coeur d’Alene: 84 cases last week, down from 109.
  • Idaho Falls: 24 cases for the week ending Oct. 1, up from 18.
  • Kuna: 21 positive cases Monday, down from 63.
  • Moscow: Eight current cases, down from 11.
  • Nampa: 103 cases, down from 111.
  • Twin Falls: 42 new cases, down from 53.
  • West Ada: 39 active cases, down from 57.
  • Pocatello-Chubbuck: No update available. The district reported 65 total cases on Oct. 1.

Higher education thumbnails

  • Boise State University: 46 campus cases, down from 51 the previous week. Positive test rate: 4.4 percent.
  • Brigham Young University-Idaho: 22 active cases, up from 19.
  • College of Eastern Idaho: Five cases last week, down from 12.
  • College of Southern Idaho: 11 cases last week, up from six.
  • Idaho State University: 62 total cases for the week ending Oct. 4, down from 72.
  • Lewis-Clark State College: Six active cases, down from nine.
  • North Idaho College: 24 self-reported cases last week, up from 21.
  • University of Idaho: Four reported cases for the week ending Oct. 1, up from two.

Editor’s note: School districts and colleges and universities do not count and report cases identically. The case numbers measure trends within a district, college or university, but they don’t provide comparisons between schools or districts.

Kevin Richert

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 "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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