The coronavirus trendline: a week in review

Over the past week — amidst a three-week statewide stay-home order — the spread of coronavirus appears to be slowing.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and the state’s health districts reported 1,398 coronavirus cases Friday afternoon. A week ago, that number stood at 1,016.

That translates to a seven-day increase of 38 percent. And it also translates to a “doubling rate” of somewhere between eight and nine days.

Epidemiologists track this doubling rate as a way of measuring the spread of a disease. For much of last week the state’s coronavirus cases were doubling every three days.

Gov. Brad Little, before appearing on Idaho Public Television’s “Idaho Reports” Thursday night. (Photo courtesy Idaho Public Television.)

Gov. Brad Little’s stay-home order is set to expire next week — and Little has already signaled that the order will remain in place in some form. But he has also said the state’s coronavirus case numbers are headed in the right direction.

“It’s not perfect, but we have really flattened the curve, and that’s what our goal was,” Little said on Idaho Public Television’s “Idaho Reports” Thursday night.

The recent trends are encouraging, Little said, and the state’s hospitals appear equipped to handle the coronavirus caseload. But Little said he does not want to roll back the stay-home order too quickly.

“You don’t want a second wave afterwards,” Little said Thursday night.

Idaho’s colleges and universities have shifted to online learning for the rest of the spring semester. Idaho’s public schools remain off-limits to students, but Little’s State Board of Education hasn’t ruled out allowing schools to reopen, under certain conditions.

Idaho’s confirmed coronavirus case numbers are a function of the state’s limited testing.

However, the state is hoping to get more information through blood tests that detect coronavirus antibodies. These tests will not identify active coronavirus cases, but they will identify people who might have already contracted the coronavirus — and might or might not have shown symptoms. This, in turn, will help determine how close the state might be to “herd immunity” that can halt the spread of the virus, Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen said on Thursday’s “Idaho Reports.”

An antibody testing study will begin in the next few days in Blaine County, which has the highest coronavirus rate in Idaho and one of the highest infection rates in the nation.

Other one-week comparisons:

April 3 April 10 One-week change
Deaths 10 25 150 percent
Hospitalizations 62 128 106 percent
ICU admissions 8 35 338 percent
Cases, Ada County 351 513 46 percent
Cases, Blaine County 405 452 12 percent
Cases, Canyon County 89 145 63 percent
Cases, Kootenai County 37 44 19 percent
Cases, Twin Falls County 33 73 121 percent
Tests completed 8,870 13,764 55 percent
Positive test rate (approximate: some patients undergo multiple tests) 11.5 10.2 -1.3 percentage points


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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