Nine months into Idaho’s coronavirus pandemic, the state set several unsettling records:
- In a possible aftershock from Thanksgiving and holiday travel, new cases set a weekly record, eclipsing the 10,000 mark for the first time.
- Twice within the week, Idaho set daily records for new cases. On Wednesday, the state and its seven health districts recorded 2,291 new cases.
- Deaths set a record, for the second successive week.
On Friday, Idaho’s confirmed and probable coronavirus case count stood at 119,843, a 10 percent increase from the previous week.
The lone glimmer: As health care officials warn of worsening pressure on the system, hospitalizations appeared to ease slightly. The state reported 458 COVID-19 admissions Wednesday, the most recent data available. down from a Dec. 1 peak of 496. Total hospitalizations and ICU admissions also slowed somewhat this week, compared to the previous week. This relief could be short-lived: This week’s spike in new cases could translate into increased hospitalizations in the next week or two.
The sobering numbers cap a turbulent week in Idaho’s nine-month battle with the virus.
On Tuesday, Gov. Brad Little said the state could begin administering more than 13,000 coronavirus vaccines next week, and said the promising vaccines could allow Idaho to move closer to life as normal by spring. By Tuesday evening, Idaho reported a record number of new daily cases — a record that stood for only 24 hours — and anti-mask protesters forced the Central District Health board to abruptly adjourn a virtual meeting, leaving a proposed four-county mask mandate on hold.
In other coronavirus headlines from the week:
Legislative session in limbo? Little on Thursday said lawmakers should consider delaying the 2021 session or going virtual. And he said there will be changes to his Jan. 11 State of the State address, normally delivered to a House chamber crowded with representatives from all three branches of government. The final say about the session belongs to the Legislature, and last week, the House did not relax rules requiring its members to be on the floor to debate a bill or vote on it.
A looming health crisis. Also Thursday, Little issued a stern warning to Idahoans. Rising case numbers could force hospitals to ration health care. However, Little said he still opposes a mask mandate, leaving that decision to local entities such as CDH.
No crowds. School sports and extracurricular activities can continue during the pandemic, but no more than 10 spectators will be allowed to attend. The State Board of Education Thursday said the state’s restrictions on gatherings apply to school sports and activities. The restriction doesn’t apply to classroom instruction.
This week’s numbers (and comparisons with last week):
|Statewide data||Dec. 4||Dec. 11||Change, Nov. 28-Dec. 4||Change, Dec. 5-11|
|Cases, confirmed and probable||108,564||119,843||9,597||11,279|
|Total cases, ages 0-4||1,603||1,758||115||155|
|Total cases, ages 5-12||3,834||4,239||362||405|
|Total cases, ages 13-17||6,244||6,861||521||617|
|Total cases, ages 18-29||28,243||30,807||2,151||2,564|
|Patients ever hospitalized||4,342||4,719||464||377|
|Patients ever admitted to ICU||805||871||78||66|
|Patients recovered, estimated||42,671||45,810||2,771||3,139|
|Health care workers infected||5,388||5,797||403||409|
|Positive test rate (based on all cases divided by testing numbers, as reported by the state)||22.3 percent||23.9 percent||+1.2 percentage points||+1.6 percentage points|
|Top 10 counties, by total cases||Dec. 4||Dec. 11||New cases, Dec. 5-11||New cases per day, per 100,000 population|
|Ten hotspot counties (most daily cases, per 100,000 population)||Dec. 4||Dec. 11||New cases, Dec. 5-11||New cases per day, per 100,000 population|