This week’s coronavirus trendline (9.4.20 edition)

Coronavirus case numbers continued to trend downward this week — and deaths decreased as well.

As of Friday afternoon, the state and its health districts reported 33,562 confirmed and probable coronavirus cases, a 6 percent increase from a week ago. Actual case numbers increased by 1,987 — the first time in two months that new case numbers have dipped below the 2,000 mark.

The state reported 29 coronavirus deaths, down considerably from last week’s 48 deaths.

In a news conference Thursday, Gov. Brad Little said several coronavirus metrics “are looking pretty good.” But he also urged caution for the fall — as schools reopen, as cooler weather moves people inside and as the flu returns to Idaho.

“Our numbers are not where we want them to be,” he said, “(and) we’ve got some added risk factors.”

Several Eastern Idaho counties reported sharp spikes. A 31 percent increase in Bingham County and an 18 percent increase in Bannock County were tied, in part, to outbreaks at jails. Case numbers also climbed by 20 percent in Power County.

But on the plus side, new case numbers continued to slow in Canyon and Ada counties — the epicenter of the state’s coronavirus outbreak. And the downward trend in Ada County could affect the state’s two largest school districts: West Ada and Boise. The Central District Health department now lists Ada County under the “red” Category 3 for coronavirus transmission, and recommends schools remain closed. Boise’s students have been attending online school since Aug. 17, and West Ada will begin classes online Tuesday.

But this week, CDH said it could move Ada County into “yellow” Category 2 on Tuesday, and recommend a blend of online and face-to-face learning. “We’re really feeling pretty confident,” CDH spokeswoman Christine Myron said Friday. (On Thursday, the CDH board linked a plan to reopen bars to the reopening of schools.)

In other coronavirus headlines from the week:

Districts revisit reopening plans: West Ada, Boise and Nampa spelled out plans that could allow kids back into classrooms, based on local health district recommendations.

Yes, it’s complicated. With 115 school districts and dozens of charter schools calling the shots on school reopening, it’s an inherently messy process, by design. (And you can keep up by bookmarking our statewide school reopening map.)

Virtual charter enrollment increases. Amidst the confusion of fall reopening, more parents are enrolling their children in virtual charter schools. That’s not necessarily good news for the charters — who fear they will be on the hook to pay teachers who were hired to handle a short-term enrollment boost.

Campus coronavirus. Boise State University reported 32 new coronavirus cases for the week ending Thursday — a fourfold increase from the preceding week. Twenty-nine of these cases involved students, including 27 living off campus. The University of Idaho reported 24 new cases last week. Idaho State University reported nine new cases for the week ending Tuesday.

Here’s the data for the week. (And comparisons with last week.)

Statewide data Aug. 28 Sept. 4 Change, Aug. 22-28 Change, Aug. 29-Sept. 4
Cases, confirmed and probable 31,575 33,562 2,116 1,987
Deaths 353 382 48 29
Hospitalizations 1,349 1,461 116 112
ICU admissions 369 394 25 25
Estimated, patients recovered 14,175 16,071 1,816 1,896
Tests completed 248,754 263,183 14,899 14,429
Health care workers infected 2,004 2,183 212 179
Positive test rate (approximate: some patients undergo multiple tests) 12.7 percent 12.8 percent +0.1 percentage points +0.1 percentage points

 

Cases in select counties Aug. 28 Sept. 4 New cases, Aug. 22-Aug. 28 New cases, Aug. 29-Sept. 4
Ada 11,028 11,481 578 453
Canyon 7,051 7,385 388 334
Kootenai 2,164 2,243 107 79
Bonneville 1,697 1,924 208 227
Twin Falls 1,650 1,758 67 108
   
Bannock 666 788 71 122
Payette 639 717 125 78
Jerome 592 624 46 32
Bingham 470 616 60 146
Blaine 601 607 8 6
   
Cassia 580 587 10 7
Minidoka 550 569 25 19
Jefferson 338 372 44 34
Nez Perce 283 324 56 41
Owyhee 297 309 10 12
   
Washington 267 298 14 31
Elmore 274 296 15 22
Madison 233 268 25 35
Latah 233 257 56 24
Gooding 219 240 25 21
   
Bonner 217 233 21 16
Gem 207 231 6 24
Power 131 157 30 26
Teton 126 131 10 5
Benewah 109 121 14 12
   
Fremont 108 120 10 12

 

 

 

 

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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