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After slow holiday week, Idaho COVID-19 cases jump to more than 1,500 on Tuesday

Coronavirus
Posted at 11:33 AM, Dec 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-30 13:33:27-05

This article was written by Nicole Blanchard and Jacob Scholl of the Idaho Statesman.

After several days of relatively low numbers of reported COVID-19 cases, Idaho’s new confirmed and probable caseload leapt to more than 1,500 cases on Tuesday.

Idaho health officials reported 1,130 confirmed cases of COVID-19 statewide on Tuesday and 416 probable cases, for a total of 1,546 new cases. The uptick in reported cases comes as the state’s daily case count, moving averages and other key metrics such as test positivity rate have been declining.

Ada County alone reported 471 new confirmed COVID-19 cases Tuesday as officials with Boise-based Central District Health work to clear a backlog of data dating back several weeks. As a result, it’s not clear how widespread the coronavirus is in Ada County, but Central District Health reported Monday that it has cleared nearly two-thirds of the backlog. To date, officials have confirmed 32,595 cases of COVID-19 in Ada County.

Kootenai County, home to Coeur d’Alene, also reported a significant number of confirmed cases Tuesday, adding 209 cases to bring its total for the pandemic to 10,972 cases. Canyon County reported 172 new cases for a total of 17,715 confirmed cases since March.

Health officials also reported 15 new COVID-19-related deaths in the following counties: Bannock (2 new, 62 total), Bingham (1 new, 44 total), Bonneville (2 new, 114 total), Boundary (1 new, 7 total), Gooding (1 new, 18 total), Kootenai (3 new, 116 total), Latah (2 new, 6 total), Shoshone (2 new, 26 total) and Twin Falls (1 new, 113 total). One death in Jefferson County that was initially attributed to COVID-19 was announced Tuesday to be unrelated to the illness, bringing the county’s total back to 14 deaths.

Southeastern Idaho Public Health said the two Bannock County deaths were both women, one of whom was in her 80s and the other in her 70s. The Bingham County death was a woman in her 70s. Both Bonneville County deaths were women — one in her 80s and the other in her 40s, Eastern Idaho Public Health said.

As of Tuesday, 1,395 Idahoans had died related to COVID-19.

Health officials have confirmed 114,944 cases of COVID-19 in Idahoans, along with 23,691 probable cases. IDHW estimates 56,799 have recovered.

The following Idaho counties also reported new confirmed COVID-19 cases Tuesday: Adams (6 new, 187 total), Bannock (27 new, 3,756 total), Bear Lake (8 new, 201 total), Benewah (3 new, 342 total), Bingham (5 new, 2,256 total), Blaine (1 new, 1,427 total), Boise (1 new, 185 total), Bonner (12 new, 1,583 total), Bonneville (45 new, 7,606 total), Boundary (1 new, 251 total), Caribou (5 new, 280 total), Cassia (4 new, 2,229 total), Clearwater (6 new, 621 total), Custer (2 new, 161 total), Elmore (6 new, 1,014 total), Franklin (1 new, 708 total), Fremont (7 new, 772 total), Gem (13 new, 1,085 total), Gooding (3 new, 839 total), Idaho (3 new, 808 total), Jefferson (5 new, 1,546 total), Jerome (5 new, 1,759 total), Latah (6 new, 2,016 total), Lemhi (4 new, 393 total), Lincoln (1 new, 339 total), Madison (15 new, 4,620 total), Minidoka (6 new, 1,758 total), Nez Perce (3 new, 2,743 total), Oneida (1 new, 175 total), Owyhee (7 new, 780 total), Payette (11 new, 1,666 total), Shoshone (9 new, 774 total), Teton (2 new, 477 total), Twin Falls (31 new, 6,289 total), Valley (6 new, 380 total) and Washington (7 new, 750 total).

IDAHO HEALTH OFFICIALS GIVE ESTIMATED TIMELINE FOR CORONAVIRUS VACCINES

State health officials have published an estimated outline as to when COVID-19 vaccines will be available in Idaho for different groups of people.

According to a document published Monday by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, vaccines could be made available to the general public by as early as May 2021.

Health officials have prioritized hospital staff and other health care workers to be offered the vaccine first, as the state has already started giving out the available vaccines. This group first in line to get a vaccine also includes long-term care facility staff and residents, as well as dentists, pharmacists, emergency medical services, home care providers and others.

According to The Associated Press, Idaho long-term care facilities began receiving vaccinations Monday.

As of Tuesday morning, 11,729 people in Idaho had received a vaccine, according to Health and Welfare.

The next group set to be offered vaccines will be essential workers and older adults, whom health officials estimate could be receiving the immunizations as early as February 2021. This group consists of first responders, teachers, correctional staff, food processing workers, grocery store workers and other essential staff. Anyone over the age of 75 would also be eligible to get an immunization.
Next, people age 65 or older and those between ages 16-64 with medical conditions will be eligible for a vaccine. Health officials say this phase could begin around April 2021.

The remaining population, the fourth and final group outlined in the document, could be eligible for vaccinations around May.

COVID-19-RELATED FRAUD ON THE RISE IN IDAHO

The Idaho Commission on Aging says coronavirus-related scams are on the rise in the Gem State.

Fraudsters prey on older adults because they have a greater risk of becoming seriously ill due to COVID-19, according to a news release from the Commission on Aging.

The commission stressed that while the CDC or local public health officials may contact you if you have been exposed to the virus, they will not ask you about your insurance or financial information.

“Scammers rapidly alter their tactics and adapt their schemes to the changing landscape, and we anticipate that they will leverage the COVID-19 vaccine to prey on unsuspecting beneficiaries,” said Admir Selimociv, Idaho Senior Medicare Patrol program director, in the news release. The patrol program helps prevent, detect and report health care fraud in Idaho.

“You can never be too careful when protecting yourself and your loved ones from scammers, so education on COVID-19 fraud prevention is key during these times,” Selimociv said.

The Commission on Aging wants the public to know that it will likely not cost anything out of pocket to receive the vaccine, nor can you pay to get your name on a vaccine list. Idahoans will not be solicited door-to-door to receive the vaccine, and you cannot pay to receive early access to the vaccine.

No one distributing the vaccine will call and ask about your Medicare number or other information like a Social Security number, credit card number or bank account information, according to the Commission on Aging.

The Senior Medicare Patrol encourages Medicare beneficiaries not to give out their personal information in response to unsolicited calls, texts or emails. If you get a call, text, email, or even someone knocking at your door claiming they can get you early access to a COVID-19 vaccine, it is a scam.

For more information, or to contact the Senior Medicare Patrol, go online to www.aging.idaho.gov for more information.

The patrol can also be contacted by phone, as the group has district coordinators across Idaho. The following are phone numbers for each district office:

  • Area 1 (Coeur d’Alene): 208-667-3179 ex. 4071
  • Area 2 (Lewiston): 208-791-6211
  • Area 3 (Caldwell): 208-459-0063
  • Area 4 (Twin Falls): 208-763-2122
  • Area 5 (Pocatello): 208-233-4032 ex. 802
  • Area 6 (Idaho Falls): 208-522-5370

DAILY DETAILS

Vaccine doses administered in Idaho: 11,729, according to Health and Welfare.

Overall hospitalizations: Health and Welfare reports that there have been 5,519 hospitalizations of people with COVID-19, 1,003 admissions to the ICU and 6,863 health care workers infected. Hospital and health care numbers are based on cases with completed investigations into contacts, not the full number of positives.

St. Luke’s Health System: As of Dec. 28, the health system was reporting 72 patients in its hospitals with confirmed COVID-19 out of 464 patients overall. The health system reported a 14-day coronavirus test positivity rate of 13%.

Saint Alphonsus Health System: As of Dec. 28, the health system was reporting 93 patients in its hospitals with confirmed COVID-19 out of 303 patients overall. The health system reported a 14-day coronavirus test positivity rate of 23.5%.

Testing totals: At the end of the day Tuesday, Health and Welfare reported that 540,470 people had been tested statewide. About 21.3% of those have been positive for COVID-19.

Counties with confirmed COVID-19 cases: Ada 32,595, Adams 187, Bannock 3,756, Bear Lake 201, Benewah 342, Bingham 2,256, Blaine 1,427, Boise 185, Bonner 1,583, Bonneville 7,606, Boundary 251, Butte 131, Camas 42, Canyon 17,715, Caribou 280, Cassia 2,229, Clark 44, Clearwater 621, Custer 161, Elmore 1,014, Franklin 708, Fremont 772, Gem 1,085, Gooding 839, Idaho 808, Jefferson 1,546, Jerome 1,759, Kootenai 10,972, Latah 2,016, Lemhi 393, Lewis 250, Lincoln 339, Madison 4,620, Minidoka 1,758, Nez Perce 2,743, Oneida 175, Owyhee 780, Payette 1,666, Power 419, Shoshone 774, Teton 477, Twin Falls 6,289, Valley 380, Washington 750.