As schools prepare to open, coronavirus case numbers continue to climb

With K-12 schools set to open in the coming days, the coronavirus continued its summer surge across the state.

Idaho and its seven public health districts Friday reported 208,274 confirmed or probable coronavirus cases, a one-week increase of more than 4,000 cases.

It’s the first time since January that weekly cases have eclipsed the 4,000 plateau.

With case numbers climbing, political and education leaders stepped up their battle to slow the latest wave of the coronavirus. On Thursday, Gov. Brad Little urged Idahoans to get vaccinated to give students their “best chance at a normal school year.” A day earlier, Idaho’s four-year universities reinstated mask mandates ahead of the Aug. 23 start of fall semester.

Mask mandates are less widespread in K-12, but the Boise School District opened for fall classes Monday with a mandate in place.

The case numbers weren’t the week’s only troubling metric:

  • For the week ending Aug. 7, 12.3 percent of coronavirus cases came back positive, the largest percentage since early January. Health experts say a test positivity rate suggests an outbreak is out of control.
  • On Thursday, 322 patients were in Idaho hospitals with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases, and 108 COVID-19 patients were in ICUs. That’s the highest hospitalization rate since mid-January, and the highest number of ICU admissions since the week before Christmas.
  • The state reported administering a total of 19,515 vaccines last week, a 6 percent increase. But as the school year begins, the vast majority of K-12 students remain unvaccinated. Only 18 percent of 12- to 15-year-olds are fully vaccinated, and 27 percent of 16- and 17-year-olds are fully vaccinated.


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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