Idaho adds nearly 5,000 COVID cases for week, ICUs at fullest level since pandemic began

Posted at 7:47 PM, Aug 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-20 21:47:50-04

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

The number of patients in an ICU with COVID-19 this week reached a number higher than at any point during the pandemic, according to data from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

On Aug. 18, there were 140 patients with COVID-19 in Idaho ICUs. On Dec. 18, during the previous peak, that number was 122.

COVID-19 hospitalizations overall are close to, but have not yet reached, the peaks of last winter. On Aug. 18, there were 416 patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 at Idaho hospitals. That number was 496 on Dec. 1.

The spiking ICU number is yet another indicator that the pandemic is again worsening as the delta variant spreads and a large percentage of Idahoans refuse to get vaccinated.

A North Idaho hospital said on Wednesday that it is near capacity after a surge in cases, and officials said this week that some hospitals in the state are only two weeks away from having to ration care.

On Thursday, Gov. Brad Little again asked more Idahoans to receive the vaccine, citing the more than 200 million Americans who have safely received at least one dose.

“The risk of death or serious injury (from the vaccines) is extremely low,” the governor said in a release. “By comparison, the risk of death or hospitalization from the COVID-19 disease is much, much higher, and it’s growing.”

Only 47.4% of Idahoans 12 and older are fully vaccinated, compared to 59.8% of Americans in that eligible age group, according to Health and Welfare.

As of Friday, 2,283 Idahoans have died from COVID-19. The state added 38 deaths this week. Based on data that was current on Aug. 13, there have been 814 COVID-19 deaths tied to long-term care facilities, which accounts for nearly 36% of the state’s deaths. (Health and Welfare’s regular Friday long-term care update was postponed until Aug. 25 this week because of “staffing schedules.”)

Nearly 5,000 new COVID-19 cases were also added this week, pushing the statewide total since last March close to 213,000. More than 27% of them were in Ada County, while almost 17% were in Canyon County. But other counties, mostly in North Idaho, have the highest seven-day moving averages (see below).

The state’s positivity rate also rose again, to 12.8% for the week ending Aug. 14. According to health experts, a rate of 5% or less indicates that a virus’s spread is under control.

As of Friday, 11,440 health care workers have been infected with COVID-19, and there have been 9,509 hospitalizations and 1,575 total ICU patients, according to Health and Welfare.


Vaccine doses administered in Idaho: 1,450,819, according to Health and Welfare. Of those, 714,645 people have been fully vaccinated, which accounts for 47.4% of Idahoans age 12 and older.

Test positivity rate: Out of the 27,489 COVID-19 tests conducted for the week of Aug. 8-14, 12.8% came back positive.

Counties with highest current seven-day incidence rate per 100,000 population, per Health and Welfare: Lewis 148.9, Idaho 89.1, Clearwater 79.9, Nez Perce 76.7, Twin Falls 58.7.