Coronavirus hospitalizations surge; new cases show signs of tapering

COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to climb last week, as overwhelmed North Idaho medical centers began rationing medical care.

On Wednesday, 613 COVID-19 patients crowded into Idaho hospitals, shattering a record set just one day earlier.

ICU admissions remained high — but relatively flat, compared to the surging overall hospitalizations. Wednesday’s 163 COVID-19 ICU admissions are down from the record 173 admissions, set on Sept. 1.

On Tuesday, the state authorized North Idaho hospitals to provide “crisis standards of care,” an unprecedented move to ration services. State officials say the rest of Idaho’s hospitals are dangerously close to following suit.

While hospitalizations surged, other coronavirus metrics were mixed. Here’s a rundown:

Overall cases: On Sunday, the state and its seven health districts reported 233,977 confirmed or probable coronavirus cases. (In a sign of the times, the state is again reporting case numbers on weekends — a practice that had been suspended months ago, before the onset of the delta variant.)

Since Sept. 3, new cases have been running at about 900 per day. However, the state’s seven-day new case rolling average has decreased somewhat. It now sits at 48.6 daily cases per 100,000 residents, down from 60.1 cases on Sept. 2.

This isn’t unprecedented during this current spike. Idaho’s case numbers also slowed two weeks ago, only to increase rapidly the following week.

Child cases: School-aged children continue to account for a growing share of the overall caseload.

Over the past 10 days, 5- to 17-year-olds have accounted for nearly 18 percent of new coronavirus cases. For much of the duration of the pandemic, school-aged children made up about one tenth of the coronavirus caseload.

All told, children have accounted for 191 of the state’s 10,318 COVID-19 hospitalizations. No Idaho children have died of COVID-19.

K-12 thumbnails: Days after mandating masks, the West Ada School District is reporting 168 active cases.

Numbers from some of Idaho’s other larger districts:

  • Nampa: 114 new cases for the week ending Tuesday. On a tie vote, trustees last week decided to keep masks optional.
  • Kuna: 95 cases, as of Monday.
  • Boise: 95 cases since Sept. 6.
  • Coeur d’Alene: 33 cases for the week ending Sunday. Classes began last week.

Test positivity rates: Climbing, but slightly.

For the week ending Sept. 4, 14.5 percent of coronavirus tests came back positive. A week earlier, that rate came in at 14.4 percent.

Either way, the rate is well above 5 percent — the threshold that suggests whether an outbreak is under control, or out of control.

Boise State’s spike: Boise State University reported 104 new cases last week, but that’s a decrease from a record 127 cases the previous week.

The university’s test positivity rate fell to 7.7 percent, down from 8.4 percent the previous week.

Vaccination numbers: Flat, and low. Another 11,397 Idahoans completed their vaccinations last week, less than a 1 percent increase.

However, the state’s overall vaccination rate did hit a milestone. As of Monday, 50.1 percent of eligible Idahoans were fully vaccinated.

Rates by age group:

  • 12- to 15-year-olds: 25 percent.
  • 16- and 17-year-olds: 32 percent.
  • 18- to 24-year-olds: 38 percent.


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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