IDAHO — For the first time since July, COVID-19 cases seem to be on the decline in Idaho. The Department of Health and Welfare shared data Tuesday afternoon during the weekly media briefing that showed small declines in the statewide data.
Officials are hopeful the state has reached its peak of cases and hospitalizations amid the current delta surge, but state health officials are also warning that Idaho is not out of the woods yet.
The state's rate of tests coming back positive remains high. The percent positivity has dropped by roughly 1% each week over the last four weeks, leaving health officials ‘cautiously optimistic.'
The average number of patients hospitalized because of COVID-19 is still well into the triple digits but is on a slow decline. After a peak of 759 hospitalizations, the state saw an average of 615 Idahoans hospitalized with the virus last week.
Still, the state's vaccination rate is much lower than health officials would like to see. Only 54% of Idahoans 12 and up are fully vaccinated. Officials continue stressing the need for more Idahoans to protect themselves and others.
"If we truly want to celebrate an end to COVID and success, we need to increase of vaccination rate. We need to embrace wearing masks to protect ourselves and others much more robustly than we have seen it now. We need to limit our social interactions and we need to avoid large gatherings,” Administrator of Public Health Elke Shaw-Tulloch said. “We know it works, we know it saves lives and we know it's how we can get out of our crisis standards of care and we know it can get our kids back in the classroom where we know they deserve to be."
The FDA will be meeting next week to discuss emergency authorization for the vaccine in kids 5 to 11 years old. It's expected to be approved, with doses arriving in Idaho shortly after.