Idaho numbers point to a coronavirus uptick

The numbers are delayed by several days, due to the New Year’s holiday.

But the numbers also suggest another uptick in Idaho coronavirus cases.

The state and its seven health districts are reporting 319,526 confirmed or probable coronavirus cases. The state hasn’t reported any new numbers since Thursday.

Despite the lag, two signs of an uptick are apparent:

  • From Dec. 20 through Thursday, the state counted 4,890 new cases, or 489 new cases per day. For the two preceding weeks, the state averaged 370 new cases per day.
  • Idaho’s positive test rate is climbing upward, and sharply. For the week ending Dec. 25, Christmas Day, 8.4% of coronavirus tests came back positive. For the previous week, this positive test rate was 5.4%. Health officials are hoping to see the test rate fall below 5% — a threshold that suggests a virus is under control. But the positive test rate has been above 5% since July.

Hospitalizations appear to be holding steady, however.

On Tuesday, the state logged 247 COVID-19 hospitalizations and 76 ICU admissions, weekly decreases of 2% and 7%, respectively.

Idaho’s new case reports and hospitalizations remain far below the fall numbers — when the delta variant fueled a coronavirus wave that forced the state’s hospitals to institute crisis standards of care.

However, new coronavirus case numbers are surging nationally — caused by the highly contagious but perhaps less severe omicron variant of the virus. This national increase comes as schools begin to reopen after the holidays, in Idaho and across the country.

To date, Idaho has identified only 15 omicron cases, all in Ada and Canyon counties. However, the state has limited capacity for studying positive test results and identifying variants.

Other Idaho coronavirus metrics:

Child cases. In contrast to the state’s overall uptick in new cases, coronavirus cases among 5- to 17-year-olds appeared to slow slightly as schools closed for the holidays.

From Dec. 18 through Thursday, the state reported 438 new cases involving school-aged children, or about 36 cases per day. From Dec. 11 through Dec. 18, the state counted about 38 cases per day involving school-aged children.

Five children have been hospitalized with COVID-19 since Dec. 18.

Deaths. From Dec. 18 through Thursday, 96 Idahoans died from COVID-19. That translates to close to 10 deaths per day.

From Dec. 11 through Dec. 18, 39 Idahoans died from COVID-19, or fewer than six deaths per day.

Idaho’s COVID-19 death toll stands at 4,162.

Vaccination rates. Here are Idaho’s current vaccination rates:

  • All Idahoans, ages 5 and up: 52%. (51.4% on Dec. 18.)
  • 5- to 11-year-olds: 10%. (8% on Dec. 18.)
  • 12- to 15-year-olds: 35%. (34% on Dec. 18.)
  • 16- and 17-year-olds: 40%. (Unchanged from Dec. 18.)
  • 18- to 24-year-olds: 48%. (47% on Dec. 18.)

And here are the latest booster shot rates:

  • All age groups: 38.4%. (34.7% on Dec. 18.)
  • 12- to 15-year-olds: Not available.
  • 16- and 17-year-olds: 9.0%. (2.7% on Dec. 18.)
  • 18- to 24-year-olds: 12.6%. (8.8% on Dec. 18.)

Editor’s note: Idaho Education News will continue to track case numbers in K-12 schools and on college and university campuses. Check back for details as schools reopen.

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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