A case of the COVID-19 variant first identified in Brazil has been detected in Elmore County, which has seen a rise in cases since March, according to Central District Health.
Health investigators found the variant in a lab sample taken from a woman younger than 40 who was infected in March and “did not report having recently traveled,” according to a news release. The variant was also detected in Boise wastewater in March, but the Elmore sample is the first case confirmed in a laboratory in the state.
The strain is believed to be causing major surges in cases and deaths in South America, where the variant is widely circulating. Researchers in Brazil have found that the variant, known as P.1, might be much more contagious than the original virus, according to The Wall Street Journal.
In the U.S., the Brazil variant is most prevalent in Illinois, Massachusetts and Florida, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
NO DEATHS, IDAHO CASELOAD DROPS THURSDAY
Idaho’s Department of Health and Welfare reported no new deaths on Thursday, according to updated data. The number of deaths since last March remained at 2,045, and the seven-day moving average for fatalities fell to 3.3 per day. In January, that average hovered at more than 10.
Daily case numbers remained low, with just 210 confirmed or probable cases reported Thursday. Ada (75 new, 51,543 total) and Canyon (38 new, 26,420 total) counties accounted for more than 50% of that; Ada’s seven-day moving average hit 76 and Canyon’s 30.
The state also reported no new patients admitted to an intensive-care unit on Thursday. The total admitted throughout the pandemic is 1,375. There have been 8,100 hospitalizations and 107,274 estimated recoveries.
For the week of April 18-24, Idaho’s test positivity rate fell to 4.3%, down from 4.6% the week before. According to the World Health Organization, positivity rates should be at or below 5% for at least 14 days before an area considers reopening safely. Idaho has recorded three straight weeks at under 5%.
The other counties adding new cases on Thursday were: Bannock (7 new, 8,706 total), Blaine (2 new, 2,364 total), Boise (2 new, 355 total), Bonneville (8 new, 14,795 total), Butte (1 new, 209 total), Cassia (1 new, 2,933 total), Elmore (5 new, 1,974 total), Franklin (1 new, 1,179 total), Gem (1 new, 1,751 total), Gooding (1 new, 1,299 total), Idaho (2 new, 1,194 total), Jerome (1 new, 2,587 total), Kootenai (34 new, 17,761 total), Latah (3 new, 3,096 total), Lewis (1 new, 391 total), Madison (1 new, 7,148 total), Nez Perce (3 new, 3,582 total), Payette (7 new, 2,529 total), Shoshone (5 new, 1,089 total), Twin Falls (11 new, 9,422 total).
WALK-IN VACCINE CLINICS
A day after St. Luke’s Health System opened its vaccination sites to walk-in patients, Saint Alphonsus did the same.
Last weekend, Saint Alphonsus offered a trial run of walk-in appointments, and from now on patients can get vaccinated at clinics in Meridian, Caldwell and Fruitland without first making an appointment.
Clinics at The Village at Meridian are open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The Elm Clinic in Caldwell is open every day, and the Fruitland Health Plaza has vaccines available every day except Saturday, according to a release. The hospital has doses of Pfizer and Moderna in Meridian and the Moderna vaccine in Caldwell and Fruitland.
Albertsons Pharmacy is also offering walk-in appointments on May 1 and May 8 at the company’s corporate office at 250 East ParkCenter Boulevard in Boise, according to a separate release.
Patients who have received one dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines can receive a second dose at one of these clinics if they bring their vaccination card with them, according to the release. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine — which requires only one shot — will also be available to patients who have not already received one of the other two vaccines.
FUNDING FOR VACCINE CLINICS
The Department of Health and Welfare is offering grants to enrolled vaccine providers on a first-come, first-served basis, according to a news release.
The department is offering a total of $9 million for providers who want to offer vaccine appointments outside of their regular clinics. Providers can use the money for mobile clinics, door-to-door efforts and other attempts to bring the vaccine to areas of the state that have not yet been reached.
“It’s critical to make it as easy as possible for Idahoans 16 and older to choose to get vaccinated,” Elke Shaw-Tulloch, Health and Welfare’s public health administrator, said in a release. “This grant funding is an effort to provide vaccination opportunities to people where they work, play, and live their lives.”
Vaccine doses administered in Idaho: 1,046,428, according to Health and Welfare. Of those, 478,202 people have been fully vaccinated.
Overall hospitalizations: Health and Welfare reports that there have been 8,100 hospitalizations of people with COVID-19, 1,375 admissions to the ICU and 10,454 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 April 28, the health system was reporting 19 patients in its hospitals with confirmed COVID-19 out of 487 patients overall. The health system reported a 14-day coronavirus test positivity rate of 4%.
Saint Alphonsus Health System: As of April 28, the health system was reporting 37 patients in its hospitals with confirmed COVID-19 out of 397 patients overall. The health system reported a 14-day coronavirus test positivity rate of 9.1%.
Boise School District: Reported confirmed cases since April 27: Maple Grove Elementary (2), West Jr. High (1).
West Ada School District: Reported confirmed cases for April 15-April 28: Centennial High (5), Eagle High (4), Meridian High (4), Rocky Mountain High (1), Heritage Middle (5), Lake Hazel Middle (1), Meridian Middle (1), Chaparral Elementary (1), Desert Sage Elementary (1), Eliza Hart Spalding STEM Academy (1), Galileo STEM Academy (1), Hillsdale Elementary (1), Paramount Elementary (1), Pepper Ridge Elementary (1), Prospect Elementary (2).
Total COVID-19 cases by county (confirmed + probable): Ada 51,543, Adams 336, Bannock 8,706, Bear Lake 380, Benewah 669, Bingham, 4,800, Blaine 2,364, Boise 355, Bonner 3,218, Bonneville 14,795, Boundary 860, Butte 209, Camas 71, Canyon 26,420, Caribou 688, Cassia 2,933, Clark 59, Clearwater 1,045, Custer 246, Elmore 1,974, Franklin 1,179, Fremont 1,124, Gem 1,751, Gooding 1,299, Idaho 1,194, Jefferson 2,976, Jerome 2,587, Kootenai 17,761, Latah 3,096, Lemhi 523, Lewis 391, Lincoln 500, Madison 7,148, Minidoka 2,333, Nez Perce 3,582, Oneida 356, Owyhee 1,058, Payette 2,529, Power 653, Shoshone 1,089, Teton 1,208, Twin Falls 9,422, Valley 835, Washington 1,214.