Health officials urge vaccination, COVID-19 cases climb

COVID-19 vaccine teens
Posted at 5:34 PM, Feb 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-02 20:47:56-05

IDAHO — As the state's COVID-19 cases continue to surge, health leaders say the unvaccinated are increasingly at risk of hospitalization and death from the virus.

During Tuesday's Idaho Department of Health and Welfare's weekly media briefing, DHW Director Dave Jeppesen said that the state reached a new high in testing positivity rates. Up from last week's record high of 34.1%, the most recent data now shows 38.8% of COVID-19 test results reported to the state were positive.

Related: COVID-19 positivity rate hits record high in Idaho, cases continue to climb

The rise comes as health care systems across the southern part of the state are operating under Crisis Standards of Care caused by staff shortages and limited blood supply. Jeppesen said this is a concern as the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized and in the ICU grows.

"The vaccine is the best way we have to turn the tide with COVID-19," Jeppesen said. "In particular, getting a booster shot is key."

Related: Crisis Standards of Care go back into effect in southern Idaho

According to data released at the briefing, boosted Idahoans are 11 times less likely to be hospitalized and 20 times less likely to die from COVID-19.

While some therapeutics and treatments are available for people who cannot receive a vaccine, State Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn said they are in limited supply. A list of alternative therapies available in Idaho is on the state's COVID-19 website.

The state has also partnered with several agencies to distribute approximately 413,000 medical-grade masks to community organizations for public use. For more information on where to get the free masks, officials encouraged people to call the Idaho CareLine at 211.