Coronavirus case numbers continue surge — and more weekly trends

Case numbers continued to surge last week, as health officials warn that Idaho is on the cusp of another wave in the coronavirus pandemic.

With schools opening in the next few weeks, here’s a rundown of the week’s troubling coronavirus metrics:

New case numbers. On Friday afternoon, the state and its seven health districts reported 198,303 confirmed or probable coronavirus cases. The one-week increase of 1,345 cases is the highest since late April.

For more context, the state reported only 485 new cases for a seven-day period ending July 2.

Delta variant cases. The state has reported 30 cases of the new and more contagious delta variant. But that count is almost certainly incomplete, since the state has limited lab capacity to identify variants.

Test positivity rate. Like case numbers, this metric is surging. For the week ending July 17, 5.7 percent of tests came back positive — the highest rate since February. This pushes the positivity rate above 5 percent, the yardstick health experts use to measure whether an outbreak is under control.

Hospitalizations. This metric held steady, last week. On Wednesday, the state reported 117 COVID-19 hospitalizations and 40 COVID-19 ICU admissions. A week earlier, those numbers were 123 and 40, respectively.

Deaths. As of Friday, 2,183 Idahoans have died from COVID-19, including nine in the past week.

Vaccinations. Numbers remain low. The state administered 14,694 vaccinations for the seven days ending Friday, down close to 900 doses from the preceding week.

While the controversy over mandatory vaccinations for hospital workers continues to rage, state officials emphasized the value of vaccinations. They pointed out that nearly all of the state’s coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths now involve Idahoans with no record of receiving the vaccine.

“Vaccination remains the best protection for parents that would like to send their kids for in-person school,” state epidemiologist Christine Hahn said last week.

Child cases. In the past week, the state reported 79 coronavirus cases among 5- to 12-year-olds — school-age children who cannot get the vaccine — and 59 cases among 13- to 17-year-olds who are eligible for the vaccine. These child cases accounted for about a tenth of the week’s cases, a rate that has more or less held steady through the pandemic.

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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