‘Frightening’: Idaho adds over 1,000 COVID-19 cases, infections rise among children

Posted at 9:01 PM, Aug 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-24 23:01:48-04

This article was originally published by Ian Max Stevenson in the Idaho Statesman.

Idaho added more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases and seven deaths on Tuesday, while health experts warned about the dire situation at many Idaho hospitals and discussed a troubling rise in infections among children.

Of the day’s new cases, 130 were in Ada County and 162 were in Canyon County, according to data from the Department of Health and Welfare. Other counties added even larger daily totals in relation to their population, including Twin Falls (145 new, 11,460 total), Kootenai (91 new, 21,383 total) and Jerome (41 new, 2,985 total).

The day’s recorded deaths were in the following counties: Ada (2 new, 506 total), Adams (1 new, 5 total), Payette (1 new, 39 total) and Twin Falls (3 new, 141 total).

On Tuesday, Dave Jeppesen, director of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, told attendees at an Idaho AARP town hall that hospitals in the state are “near or over capacity” and that the state is “dangerously” close to implementing crisis standards of care, a method to triage resources during health crises that could limit the availability of care.

On Friday, the state requested extra health care workers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency as well as from other states, according to the Idaho Capital Sun.

At a Health and Welfare news briefing on Tuesday, state officials discussed the increase in positive cases of COVID-19 among children amid the surge from the delta variant. Though cases are rising in all age groups, the level of increase is higher among the state’s youngest children, and the state recorded its largest number of cases for the youngest age group — children 4 and younger — last week, according to state deputy epidemiologist Kathryn Turner.

She called the findings a “grim milestone.”

“I’m extremely concerned about the children,” Dr. David Peterman, the CEO of Primary Health Medical Group, told reporters at the briefing. Primary Health has 20 clinics in the Treasure Valley, and Peterman said the number of positive cases has increased rapidly since early July.

“You can’t get more frightening than that,” he added.

There is no vaccine currently authorized for children younger than 12, but Peterman emphasized the wearing of face coverings to help limit spread.

“Now is the time for parents and their children to wear masks,” he said.

Earlier this month, the Boise School District mandated masks for all students and school employees indoors this fall. Caldwell High School implemented a mask requirement on Tuesday that will last till Sept. 3. The West Ada School District was discussing safety protocols Tuesday evening.