Coronavirus case numbers continue to recede; hospitalizations also decrease

Idaho’s coronavirus trends continued to move in the right direction last week.

All of the key coronavirus metrics showed signs of improvement. And during an AARP Idaho virtual town hall Monday morning, Gov. Brad Little struck an optimistic tone, saying a continued “team effort” could ease the pressure on overburdened hospitals.

“We love the trend that the numbers are going down,” said Little.

Here are this week’s key metrics:

Overall cases. On Saturday, the state and its health districts reported 296,374 confirmed or probable coronavirus cases.

That’s the most current data available. The state is no longer posting Sunday numbers, which tended to be incomplete anyway.

Saturday’s numbers translate to 4,974 cases over a six-day period, down 18% from the seven-day period of Oct. 25-31.

The new case numbers appear to be complete and current. For several weeks, the state had said it was plowing through a backlog of case reports — which means the previous weeks’ numbers were incomplete.

Child cases. A sixth successive weekly decrease.

From Nov. 1 through Saturday, 714 school-aged children contracted coronavirus.

But new cases among 5- to 17-year-olds have fallen by more than 50% since late September, when rates reached a pandemic peak.

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

No Idaho children have died of COVID-19.

Hospitalizations. Another weekly decrease — the sixth in a row.

On Wednesday, the state tallied 435 COVID-19 hospitalizations, down 17% percent.

ICU admissions decreased as well. On Wednesday, 138 COVID-19 patients were in ICUs, down 6%.

During Monday’s AARP town hall, Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen hailed the declining hospitalizations. “That’s very heartening and very encouraging to see.”

As the COVID-19 surge shows signs of easing, some hospitalizations are scheduling surgeries that were on hold, Jeppesen said Monday. But all Idaho hospitals continue to operate under crisis standards of care, as they have since September. This unprecedented designation can allow hospitals to ration care.

Deaths. The state reported 108 COVID-19 deaths from Nov. 1 through Saturday.

That’s a 14% decrease from the Oct. 25-31 period.

In all, 3,646 Idahoans have died of COVID-19.

Positive test rates. For a seven-day period ending Oct. 30, 10.3% of coronavirus cases came back positive. That’s the lowest rate since late July, and it’s down from 11.3% the previous week.

The positive test rate remains above 5%, the threshold that suggests an outbreak is out of control. But this rate has been falling for seven weeks in a row.

Vaccinations. A big dropoff. About 7,100 Idahoans became fully vaccinated last week, down from 20,200 the preceding week.

The slowdown comes as 5- to 11-year-olds can begin receiving the vaccine. On Monday, Little urged Idaho parents to consult with their pediatrician about the newly available child dosage. “It’s really important you have a high comfort level with the vaccine.”

Current vaccination rates:

  • Overall: 55.4%. (Last week: 55%.)
  • 12- to 15-year-olds: 32%. (Last week: 31%.)
  • 16- and 17-year-olds: 38%. (Unchanged.)
  • 18- to 24-year-olds: 44%. (Last week: 43%.)

K-12 thumbnails

Most of Idaho’s largest districts reported decreasing or flat case numbers.

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

  • Boise: New cases fell by one half. Boise reported 31 positive cases last week, down from 62.
  • Bonneville: 31 active infections Thursday, down from 40 the previous week.
  • Coeur d’Alene: 37 positive cases last week, down from 48.
  • Idaho Falls: Six cases for the week ending Oct. 29, down from 22.
  • Kuna: 12 positive cases Monday; 16 positive cases Friday.
  • Moscow: Four current cases, unchanged from the previous week.
  • Nampa: 38 cases for the week ending Oct. 30, up from 32.
  • Pocatello-Chubbuck: 43 cases Friday, down from 55.
  • Twin Falls: 16 new student and staff cases, down from 30.
  • West Ada: 24 active cases, down from 33.

Higher education thumbnails

  • Boise State University: 21 campus cases, down from 28 the previous week. Positive test rate: 2.2%, down from 3%.
  • Brigham Young University-Idaho: 30 active cases Sunday, up from 25.
  • College of Idaho: Seven new cases for the week, up from no new cases the previous week. Seven students and employees are isolating off-campus. The college has reported 55 total cases during fall semester.
  • College of Eastern Idaho: Seven cases last week, up from five.
  • College of Southern Idaho: Two cases last week, both involving faculty or staff, down from a total of four cases.
  • College of Western Idaho: No new cases reported.
  • Idaho State University: 27 total cases for the week ending Tuesday, down from 40.
  • Lewis-Clark State College: Six active cases, unchanged from the previous week.
  • North Idaho College: Six self-reported cases last week, down from 15.
  • University of Idaho: Nine reported cases for the week ending Oct. 29, up from six. Last week, university officials said a campus mask mandate will remain in place at least until the Thanksgiving week break.

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

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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