Coronavirus: Unemployment claims rise; a Caldwell festival canceled; 9 new COVID deaths

Posted at 2:49 PM, Aug 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-20 16:49:57-04

This article was originally published by Jacob Scholl in the Idaho Statesman.

Idaho’s Labor Department saw an uptick in new unemployment claims over the past week.

Labor officials said in a news release Thursday morning that initial unemployment filings totaled 3,644 for the week ending in Aug. 15, meaning the total increased 12%, or by 294 claims, from the previous week. However, the state’s four-week moving average has decreased to 3,801 claims per week, according to the department.

Continued claims, meaning the people who requested a benefit payment, dropped by 7% last week. The four-week moving average also declined this week, down 9%.

People between the ages of 25-34 made up a quarter of all claims filed, while people between ages 35-44 made up 21% of claims. Young people under 25 accounted for 18% of claims. By gender, claims were evenly split between men and women.

State labor officials paid out $11.9 million in claims last week, which is down from $14.7 million during the previous weeks. The drop in money being paid out is due in part to the end of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, or FPUC, which gave out an extra $600 per week in benefits.

In total, the Idaho Department of Labor has paid out $779 million since the coronavirus outbreak, with the bulk of that money coming from FPUC payments.


The city of Caldwell has canceled the 18th annual Indian Creek Festival, which was slated to take place Sept. 18-19. However, some events will still take place.

The cancellation came after Southwest District Health rated Canyon County in the “red” category for its COVID-19 health alert level, meaning there would be a high probability of community spread in the area, according to a news release from Destination Caldwell, a nonprofit that has hosted the event for the past two years.

An event that draws thousands to downtown Caldwell, the festival consists of several events, including a car show, a cardboard kayak race and rubber duck race.

City officials announced the car show will still take place, and it is scheduled for Sept. 19 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. In place of the festival, the city will also hold “Oldies on the Plaza,” a free concert that will take place from 7-10 p.m. Sept. 18. Safety plans will be developed by city and Destination Caldwell officials in corroboration with SWDH.

“The health and well-being of our community is always our top priority and at this point in time, a mass gathering of citizens would be counterproductive,” said Caldwell Mayor Garret Nancolas in the news release. “This decision was made largely with the upcoming school year in mind. It is imperative that we are able to get children back to school in a safe environment where they can continue their education, play sports, participate in extra-curricular activities and be surrounded by teachers and mentors.”

The city plans to host the festival again in 2021.


The University of Idaho’s 54th annual Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival will move online for 2021 due to COVID-19, according to a news release from the university.

Set for Feb. 25-27, the festival will still feature performances by elementary, junior high, high school and college students, as well as concerts and workshops from artists.

“The festival has typically featured a regional focus, but this format will provide the opportunity for schools around the globe to perform,” said Josh Skinner, festival manager, in a news release. “We want to provide an event for all schools to participate regardless of their situation forced by the coronavirus.”

However, this year will include a bonus.

“Some of our concerts will have archived footage with Lionel Hampton and his band with special guests. We will share many special moments throughout the history of the festival,” Skinner said.

Those performing at the festival will be announced at a later date. The university said in the news release that it plans on having an in-person festival for 2022.


As Idaho’s average new COVID-19 case count keeps falling, the state’s death total keeps rising.

A total of nine deaths were made public Wednesday, as well as 315 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus were reported by Idaho’s seven health districts. The state’s 14-day moving average has now dropped to 423.3, while on Aug. 14 the average was 455.4.

Four of the nine deaths were in Ada County, which broke into the triple digits on Wednesday with 102 coronavirus-related deaths. Pairs of deaths were reported in both Bingham and Shoshone, leaving the counties with four and seven deaths, respectfully. The deaths in Bingham were that of a man in his 80s with no underlying health conditions, and the other was a woman in her 60s that did have previous health conditions, according to Southeastern Idaho Public Health.

Fremont County reported its first death Wednesday, which Eastern Idaho Public Health said was a man in his 60s.

As of Wednesday, there have been 292 coronavirus-related deaths reported in Idaho.

Of Wednesday’s newly reported cases, the most were found in Canyon County. The county reported 86 cases, bringing its total to 6,274. Just behind was Ada County reporting 74 new cases, bringing its total to 9,574. Other counties that reported double-digit new cases on Wednesday include Bonneville (32 new), Payette (27), Kootenai (18), Bannock (16) and Bingham (10).

Local health districts have reported there are 26,777 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Idaho.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported 47 new “probable cases” of the coronavirus, as the total is now 1,942. The department also presumes that 11,733 people have recovered from the coronavirus. As of Wednesday, IDHW says that 229,205 tests have been conducted statewide, with around 11.7% of those tests returning positive.

Coronavirus cases have been reported in all of Idaho’s 44 counties: Ada 9,574, Adams 22, Bannock 534, Bear Lake 31, Benewah 81, Bingham 373, Blaine 574, Boise 42, Bonner 186, Bonneville 1,147, Boundary 42, Butte 4, Camas 2, Canyon 6,274, Caribou 33, Cassia 513, Clark 13, Clearwater 17, Custer 15, Elmore 217, Franklin 48, Fremont 84, Gem 178, Gooding 167, Idaho 37, Jefferson 237, Jerome 482, Kootenai 2,000, Latah 148, Lemhi 47, Lewis 5, Lincoln 56, Madison 162, Minidoka 483, Nez Perce 182, Oneida 15, Owyhee 257, Payette 455, Power 81, Shoshone 171, Teton 92, Twin Falls 1,391, Valley 74 and Washington 231.

Community spread has been found in the majority of Idaho counties: Ada, Bannock, Bear Lake, Benewah, Bingham, Blaine, Boise, Bonner, Bonneville, Boundary, Canyon, Caribou, Cassia, Clark, Clearwater, Custer, Elmore, Fremont, Gem, Gooding, Idaho, Jefferson, Jerome, Kootenai, Latah, Lemhi, Lewis, Lincoln, Madison, Minidoka, Nez Perce, Oneida, Owyhee, Payette, Power, Shoshone, Teton, Twin Falls, Valley and Washington.