COVID-19 trends: hospitalizations, child case rates continue to climb

As COVID-19 hospitalizations continue their upward spiral, the pandemic passed another milestone late last week.

More than a quarter million Idahoans have contracted the coronavirus.

As of Sunday, the state and its seven health districts reported 251,063 confirmed or probable coronavirus cases.

Last week’s 8,650 new cases represent a slight increase from the previous week’s 8,436 cases. But on Friday, the state’s deputy epidemiologist suggested the current surge isn’t over.

“I see no indication as of today that we are heading downward, we may be heading towards a plateau, which I’ll take over continual increases,” Kathryn Turner of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare told the State Board of Education.

However, Health and Welfare modeling predicts the delta variant surge will peak in mid-November, reaching 21,000 cases per week.

Here’s a closer look at the week’s other coronavirus metrics:

Child cases. Continuing to increase.

For the week ending Sunday, the state reported another 1,516 cases involving 5- to 17-year-olds. That’s a 10% increase from the previous week, as K-12-aged children continue to account for a growing share of Idaho’s coronavirus caseload.

Nine children were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the past week. No Idaho children have died of COVID-19.

Hospitalizations. On Sept. 20, the state reported a record 760 COVID-19 hospitalizations and 202 ICU admissions. Subsequent reports from Sept. 21 suggested a possible decrease in hospitalization numbers — but hospital admissions far exceed last fall’s coronavirus outbreak.

Deaths. As of Sunday, 2,753 Idahoans have died of COVID-19. The state reported another 117 COVID-19 deaths last week. That’s a decrease from the previous week, when reports of 164 deaths included some cases from the summer.

Positive test rate. A slight decrease.

For the week ending Sept. 18, 16.4% of coronavirus tests came back positive, down from 17.4% the preceding week.

The positive test rate had been climbing every week since mid-June.

However, any positive test rate above 5% suggests a virus is out of control.

Vaccinations. Close to 12,700 Idahoans completed their vaccinations last week, a decrease from the preceding week.

Current vaccination rates, as of Monday:

  • All eligible Idahoans: 51.8%.
  • 12- to 15-year-olds: 27%.
  • 16- and 17-year-olds: 34 %.
  • 18- to 24-year-olds: 39 %.

School district thumbnails

Case numbers, self-reported by several large districts, showed signs of decreases:

  • Boise: 156 positive cases (down from 168 the previous week).
  • Nampa: 113 cases (down from 127 the previous week).
  • Coeur d’Alene: 96 positive cases (down from 121 the previous week).
  • Pocatello-Chubbuck: 78 total cases (down from 123 the previous week).
  • Twin Falls: 60 new cases (down from 63 the previous week).
  • West Ada: 57 active cases (down from 66 the previous week).
  • Bonneville: 46 active cases.
  • Kuna: 33 COVID-positive students reported Monday (down from 83 the previous week).

Boise State update

On the heels of another decrease in new cases, Boise State University is tweaking its gameday protocols — again.

Boise State will not require fans to test negative for the coronavirus, or provide proof of vaccination, in order to attend Saturday’s home football game. The university had announced the requirement on Sept. 17, and students were required to test negative or provide proof of vaccination in order to attend the Sept. 18 game.

“Given the limited capacity for testing, the university is prioritizing its capacity to test Idahoans who are symptomatic, at high risk of contracting COVID, or have had a known exposure,” Boise State said in a news release late Friday afternoon.

Boise State reported 77 new campus cases last week, down from 90 cases the preceding week. Only 3 % of campus coronavirus tests came back positive.

Boise State continues to have the highest case numbers of any Idaho campus. By contrast, Idaho State University reported 69 cases last week, the University of Idaho reported nine cases and Lewis-Clark State College reported six active cases.

“Based on what I heard today I think our university campuses might be among the safest places to be in the state when you look at the protocols that they have in place,” State Board President Kurt Liebich said during Friday’s board meeting.


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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