Child coronavirus outbreak shows signs of a significant slowdown

(UPDATED, 2:34 p.m., with corrected information from Pocatello-Chubbuck schools.)

New coronavirus cases among school-aged children appeared to slow significantly last week, as health officials expressed some cautious optimism about the current outbreak.

Over the past week, the state reported 1,066 new cases involving 5- to 17-year-olds. That’s the lowest weekly total since late August — when many public schools were reopening across Idaho.

Case numbers are still not conclusive, however. The state is still working through a paperwork backlog.

“Case data for the most recent two-week period are incomplete,” according to Idaho’s coronavirus dashboard.  Due to the recent surge in infections, case investigation data are missing for approximately 2,900 outstanding positive laboratory results that are pending local public health district review and followup.”

The state is working through this backlog; a week ago, it was estimated at 5,000 cases.

Over the past week, eight children were hospitalized with COVID-19, up from seven hospitalizations the previous week.

No Idaho children have died of COVID-19.

Other statewide metrics for the week:

Overall cases. Another possible slowdown.

As of Sunday, the state and Idaho’s seven health districts reported 285,345 confirmed or probable coronavirus cases.

This translates to 8,110 new cases, down almost 5% from the preceding week.

While the case numbers remain a puzzle, due to the processing backlog, Department of Health and Welfare officials last week said the state’s delta variant-driven surge appears to be leveling off.

Hospitalizations. Still tailing off, from peaks of a month ago.

On Wednesday, the state reported 573 COVID-19 hospitalizations and 161 ICU admissions.

A week earlier, these numbers were 615 and 179, respectively.

Hospitalizations and ICU admissions both peaked on Sept. 24. Since then, hospitalizations are down by 28%, while ICU admissions are down 24%.

All Idaho hospitals continue to operate under crisis standards of care.

Deaths. Increased last week.

The state reported 157 COVID-19 deaths last week, up from 134.

In all, 3,413 Idahoans have died of COVID-19.

Positive test rates. A fifth consecutive weekly decrease.

For the seven-day period ending Oct. 16, 12% of coronavirus cases came back positive. That’s a decrease from 13.3% the previous week.

Still, 5% is the big yardstick. Any rate above that suggests an outbreak is out of control.

Vaccinations. About 10,300 Idahoans became fully vaccinated last week, a slight decline from the previous week.

Current vaccination rates:

  • Overall: 54.3%. (Last week: 53.6%.)
  • 12- to 15-year-olds: 31%. (Last week: 30%.)
  • 16- and 17-year-olds: 37%. (Last week: 36%.)
  • 18- to 24-year-olds: 42%. (Last week: Unchanged.)

K-12 thumbnails

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

  • Boise: 60 positive cases, down from 94 cases the previous week.
  • Bonneville: 31 active cases, up from 22.
  • Coeur d’Alene: No update available. Reported 74 cases for the week ending Oct. 10.
  • Idaho Falls: 25 cases for the week ending Oct. 15, down from 31.
  • Kuna: 15 positive cases Monday; 28 positive cases Friday.
  • Moscow: Ten current cases, up from eight the previous week.
  • Nampa: 51 cases for the week ending Oct. 14, down from 65.
  • Pocatello-Chubbuck: 62 cases Friday, down from 80.
  • Twin Falls: 15 new student and staff cases, down from 37.
  • West Ada: 17 active cases, down from 32.

Higher education thumbnails

  • Boise State University: 27 campus cases, unchanged from the previous week. Positive test rate: 3.4%, up from 3.1%.
  • Brigham Young University-Idaho: Cases have more than doubled in the past week. BYU-Idaho reported 33 active cases Sunday, up from 15.
  • College of Idaho: Has reported 48 total cases during fall semester. One student is now isolating off-campus.
  • College of Eastern Idaho: Eight cases last week, up from five.
  • College of Southern Idaho: 10 cases last week, up from five.
  • College of Western Idaho: No new data available. CWI has reported 14 cases so far in October, down from 59 in September.
  • Idaho State University: 41 total cases for the week ending Oct. 19, down from 51.
  • Lewis-Clark State College: Five active cases, unchanged from the previous week.
  • North Idaho College: 11 self-reported cases last week, down from 21.
  • University of Idaho: Seven reported cases for the week ending Oct. 15, up from five.

Editor’s note: School districts and colleges and universities do not necessarily 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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