Idaho COVID-19 deaths reach weekly peak

Idaho reported record COVID-19 deaths last week, as new case numbers and hospitalizations also continued to rise.

In the seven-day period ending Sunday, the state reported another 210 COVID-19 deaths, the highest total in Idaho’s 19-month battle with the coronavirus pandemic. A total of 2,963 Idahoans have died of COVID-19, and the state has reported nearly a fifth of these deaths just in the past four weeks.

The spiraling death totals weren’t the only troubling coronavirus metric from the past seven days:

Hospitalizations. On Sept. 24, the state reported 793 COVID-19 hospitalizations and 213 ICU admissions, both records. State reports indicate that those hospitalization rates have declined slightly since then. Even so, COVID-19 hospitalizations remain far above last fall’s previous spikes, as the state’s hospitals continue to operate under crisis standards of care, a designation that could allow hospitals to ration medical treatment.

Case numbers. Still rising.

As of Sunday, the state and its seven health districts reported 260,421 confirmed or probable coronavirus cases.

That translates to 9,358 new cases for the week, up from 8,650 the previous week.

New cases represent a slight increase from the previous week’s 8,436 cases. And the current numbers don’t tell the entire story.

“Case data for the most recent two-week period are incomplete,” the state Department of Health and Welfare says on its coronavirus website. “Due to the recent surge in infections, case investigation data are missing for approximately 9,500 outstanding positive laboratory results that are pending local public health district review and followup.”

Child cases. A slight drop this week.

For the week ending Sunday, the state reported another 1,441 cases involving 5- to 17-year-olds, a 5 percent weekly decrease. But child cases have peaked during the current delta variant surge, alarming medical officials and pediatricians.

Fifteen children were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the past week, up from nine hospitalizations the previous week. No Idaho children have died of COVID-19.

Positive test rate. For the second consecutive week, this metric showed signs of improvement.

For the week ending Sept. 25, 15.4 percent of coronavirus tests came back positive, down from 16 percent the preceding week.

The test rate is a leading indicator, Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen said last week. A decline could indicate that the delta surge is slowing.

But there’s still a long way to go. Any positive test rate above 5 percent suggests a virus is out of control.

Vaccinations. Barely 10,000 Idahoans completed their vaccinations last week, a 21 percent decrease from the preceding week.

Current vaccination rates:

  • All eligible Idahoans: 52.5 percent. (Last week: 51.5 percent.)
  • 12- to 15-year-olds: 28 percent. (Last week: 27 percent.)
  • 16- and 17-year-olds: 35 percent. (Last week: 34 percent.)
  • 18- to 24-year-olds: 40 percent. (Last week: 39 percent.)

School district thumbnails

Case numbers, self-reported by several large districts:

  • Boise: 127 positive cases (down from 156 the previous week).
  • Nampa: 111 cases (down from 113 the previous week).
  • Coeur d’Alene: 106 positive cases (up from 104 the previous week).
  • Pocatello-Chubbuck: 65 total cases (down from 78 the previous week).
  • West Ada: 57 active cases (unchanged from the previous week).
  • Twin Falls: 53 new cases last week (down from 55 the previous week).
  • Bonneville: 32 active cases Monday (down from 81 the previous week).
  • Kuna: 32 student COVID cases reported Monday (down from 81 the previous week).
  • Idaho Falls: 18 cases from Sept. 20 through Sept. 24.
  • Moscow: 11 current cases (down from 12 the previous week).

Higher education update

Boise State University reported 51 new campus cases Friday. It was the fourth successive week of decreases since early September, when the university reported a record 127 cases.

In all, 4.2 percent of campus tests came back positive, up from 3 percent the preceding week.

Revised pandemic protocols were in place for Saturday’s Boise State home football game. Instead of requiring all students to provide proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test, Boise State conducted random student testing.

Other campus numbers:

  • Idaho State University: 72 total cases for the week ending Sept. 28, up from 69.
  • North Idaho College: 21 active cases last week, down from 33.
  • Brigham Young University-Idaho: 19 active cases.
  • College of Eastern Idaho: 12 active cases last week, up from three the previous week.
  • Lewis-Clark State College: Nine active cases, up from six the previous week.
  • College of Southern Idaho: Six new cases last week, down from 17 the previous week.
  • University of Idaho: Two reported cases for the week ending Sept. 24, down from nine.
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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