Despite low coronavirus case numbers across the state Thursday — especially in the Treasure Valley, where Ada County’s numbers continue to drop drastically — Idaho health officials reported 13 new deaths related to COVID-19.
Of those 13, five were from Kootenai County (180 total) in North Idaho. Other counties reporting deaths were Ada (2 new, 432), Bonneville (2 new, 145), Bonner (1 new, 32), Canyon (1 new, 276), Payette (1 new, 32), and Jefferson (1 new, 22).
At least 1,855 Idahoans have suffered COVID-19-related deaths since the pandemic reached the state.
Coincidentally, 13 was the number of confirmed cases reported in Ada County (39,492 total) on Thursday, the county’s lowest total since a weekend day in September. The county added only 26 confirmed cases on Wednesday.
By contrast, much less populated counties Benewah, Latah and Madison each added more cases than Ada on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Southwest District Health reported just 20 new cases in Canyon County (20,893), where caseload numbers have been less than 50 on 12 of the past 14 days.
The Department of Health and Welfare and seven Idaho health districts reported just 181 new confirmed coronavirus cases statewide Thursday. With 124 new probable cases, that put the total at 305 for the day.
In another sign of Idaho’s progress, the positivity rate on tests for Feb. 14 -Feb. 20 — it’s updated weekly on Thursdays — dropped again. Roughly 5.1% of 21,828 PCR tests performed that week were positive for the coronavirus, compared to 5.4% the previous week. Experts say that a rate under 5% shows control over the spread of the virus, and the state has not been this close to reaching that mark since June.
Other counties reporting new cases on Thursday were Bannock (1 new, 4,667 total), Bear Lake (1 new, 251 total), Benewah (15 new, 481 total), Bingham (3 new, 2,546 total), Blaine (8 new, 1,949 total), Bonner (3 new, 2,407 total), Bonneville (27 new, 8,836 total), Cassia (3 new, 2,437 total), Elmore (4 new, 1,246 total), Franklin (3 new, 857 total), Fremont (4 new, 884 total), Gem (2 new, 1,331 total), Gooding (1 new, 912 total), Jefferson (6 new, 1,799 total), Kootenai (18 new, 14,728 total), Latah (19 new, 2,570 total), Lewis (1 new, 277 total), Madison (21 new, 5,529 total), Minidoka (1 new, 1,896 total), Nez Perce (6 new, 3,053 total), Twin Falls (3 new, 6,987 total), Washington (1 new, 847 total).
One case each was removed from Adams (251 total), Boise (228 total) and Teton (614 total) counties. A total of 138,525 people have tested positive for coronavirus since the pandemic reached Idaho.
MCCALL ADDS LOCAL MASK MANDATE AFTER VALLEY COUNTY’S ENDED
The majority of the McCall City Council voted in favor of reinstating a mask order for the mountain resort town Thursday night, a week after Central District Health removed a mask mandate for Valley County. The district’s action also ended an Ada County mandate, which led the city of Boise to enact its own measure on facial coverings.
The McCall order is effective Friday at 12:01 a.m. and will run for 45 days. The order is not a prosecutable offense unless a $100 fine goes unpaid after a citation is written.
“McCall’s increased tourism population, the new U.K. and South African variant strains present in Idaho, and limited health care services in the region account for the core reasons for the mandate,” read a Thursday press release regarding the mandate. “These emphasize the need to be proactive in encouraging our locals and visitors to follow CDC guidelines, respect the local advisories by our local health district as well as the new order.”
Masks are required in all indoor and outdoor public spaces in the city of McCall.
The new order also comes with a modification for claiming medical exemptions. Previously, medical exemptions for not wearing a mask could be claimed without documentation to avoid a citation, according to the release. Now, McCall police officers may issue tickets, with offenders having the opportunity to present medical documentation later.
“False medical claims have become routine in McCall to avoid wearing a mask. This new mandate supports those who actually do have a medical condition by allowing them the opportunity to present their documentation to either the officer or the prosecutor,” said Justin Williams, McCall’s police chief.
IDAHO PRISONS TO BEGIN OFFERING COVID-19 VACCINE TO ELIGIBLE INMATES
Some Idaho prison inmates could begin receiving COVID-19 vaccines as early as Saturday.
The Idaho Department of Correction will start offering immunizations to prisoners who are older than 65 or in long-term care, according to IDOC spokesperson Jeff Ray.
IDOC’s health care provider, Corizon Health, has received 100 Moderna vaccine doses, and IDOC anticipates getting another 100 by Friday. Ray said the doses came from the health districts where each IDOC facility is located. The bulk of Idaho prisons are in Ada County, near Kuna, although there are facilities in Bannock, Clearwater, Fremont and Idaho counties.
As of Wednesday, 167 inmates in Idaho were currently positive for the coronavirus, with 14 of those showing symptoms. Another 4,010 have tested positive at some point but have since been medically cleared or released from custody. IDOC has conducted nearly 25,000 coronavirus tests among inmates.
Six IDOC inmates have suffered COVID-19-related deaths — five after being housed in Idaho prisons and another who was in a private Arizona prison.
In a Feb. 18 update, IDOC director Josh Tewalt wrote that COVID-19 cases among staff were decreasing, as more IDOC staffers were getting vaccinated. Correctional staff became eligible for vaccines earlier this month.
Vaccine doses administered in Idaho: 336,021, according to Health and Welfare. Of those, 119,017 people have received only their first dose.
Overall hospitalizations: Health and Welfare reports that there have been 7,057 hospitalizations of people with COVID-19, 1,228 admissions to the ICU and 9,532 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 Feb. 24, the health system was reporting 24 patients in its hospitals with confirmed COVID-19 out of 463 patients overall. The health system reported a 14-day coronavirus test positivity rate of 4%.
Saint Alphonsus Health System: As of Feb. 24, the health system was reporting 27 patients in its hospitals with confirmed COVID-19 out of 339 patients overall. The health system reported a 14-day coronavirus test positivity rate of 9.1%.
Testing totals: Health and Welfare reported that 636,533 people had been tested statewide. About 21.7% of those have been positive for COVID-19.
Boise School District: Reported confirmed cases since Feb. 16: Adams Elementary (1), Amity Elementary (2), Boise High (1), Borah High (4), Capital High (2), District Services (1), Fairmont Jr. High (1), Frank Church High (1), Hillside Jr. High (1), Les Bois Jr. High (1), North Jr. High (1), Riverglen Jr. High (3), Riverside Elementary (1), Roosevelt Elementary (1), South Jr. High (2), Taft Elementary (1), Timberline High (1), Trail Wind Elementary (2), West Junior High (6), Whittier Elementary (1).
West Ada School District: Reported confirmed cases for Feb. 12-25: Centennial High (2), Eagle High (7), Renaissance High (1), Rocky Mountain High (5), Lake Hazel Middle (1) Lewis and Clark Middle (1), Lowell Scott Middle (1), Meridian Middle (1) Pathways Middle (1), Victory Middle (1), Cecil D. Andrus Elementary (1), Peregrine Elementary (2), Prospect Elementary (1).
Counties with confirmed COVID-19 cases: Ada 39,492, Adams 251, Bannock 4,667, Bear Lake 251, Benewah 481, Bingham 2,546, Blaine 1,949, Boise 228, Bonner 2,407, Bonneville 8,836, Boundary 412, Butte 162, Camas 52, Canyon 20,893, Caribou 330, Cassia 2,437, Clark 44, Clearwater 747, Custer 177, Elmore 1,246, Franklin 857, Fremont 884, Gem 1,331, Gooding 912, Idaho 879, Jefferson 1,799, Jerome 1,954, Kootenai 14,728, Latah 2,570, Lemhi 401, Lewis 277, Lincoln 370, Madison 5,529, Minidoka 1,896, Nez Perce 3,053, Oneida 220, Owyhee 877, Payette 1,891, Power 457, Shoshone 943, Teton 614, Twin Falls 6,987, Valley 641, Washington 847.