Coronavirus trendline, 12.11.20: A week of unsettling records

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
Deaths 1,032 1,166 123 134
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
Idahoans tested 487,460 502,070 18,565 14,610
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
Ada 27,461 30,775 3,314 98.3
Canyon 16,409 17,858 1,449 90.1
Kootenai 8,240 9,797 1,557 134.2
Bonneville 8,146 9,090 944 113.3
Twin Falls 7,092 7,382 290 47.7
Bannock 4,908 5,513 605 98.4
Madison 4,444 4,862 418 150.4
Bingham 2,979 3,203 224 68.4
Nez Perce 2,481 2,667 186 65.8
Cassia 2,230 2,330 100 59.4
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
Clearwater 592 731 139 226.8
Lewis 239 294 55 204.7
Madison 4,444 4,862 418 150.4
Oneida 166 210 44 138.7
Kootenai 8,240 9,797 1,557 134.2
Gem 1,078 1,226 148 116.7
Bonneville 8,146 9,090 944 113.3
Shoshone 542 643 101 112.0
Bannock 4,908 5,513 605 98.4
Ada 27,461 30,775 3,314 98.3
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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