Idaho shatters COVID records; St. Luke’s Magic Valley to divert child patients to Boise

Posted at 10:01 PM, Oct 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-24 00:01:46-04

This article was originally published by Nicole Foy and Rachel Roberts in the Idaho Statesman.

A run of record-breaking days for new coronavirus cases is straining Idaho’s health care system and reaching into just about every part of the state.

Idaho recorded its highest coronavirus case total yet on Friday, with the state’s health districts reporting 960 confirmed and 152 probable cases. The total of 1,112 breaks the record set twice already this week. There have now been 51,114 confirmed coronavirus cases in Idaho since the pandemic began.

Another nine Idahoans were added to the COVID-19 related death toll Friday, bringing that total to 569. There have been nearly 40 deaths this week. At the end of July, the state’s death toll was 193.

The record-breaking day was driven by counties in nearly every region of the state. Ada County led the way with 150 new confirmed cases (14,174 total). Canyon County reported 95 (8,984) and Madison County reported 88 (2,039).

Kootenai County broke its record for daily confirmed coronavirus cases, reporting 112 (3,602 total). This came one day after Panhandle Health District board members voted 4-3 to rescind a mask mandate for the county.

Counties on the eastern side of the state reported high numbers, too. Bannock County had 69 new cases (1,636), Fremont County had 61 (419) and Bonneville County, home to Idaho Falls, had 57 (3,390).

Even sparsely populated Adams County — whose commissioners just signed a resolution rescinding COVID-19 measures and declaring the county “back to normal” — recorded a sizable jump with 12 new cases. The county has recorded only 42 cases since the pandemic began in Idaho, but its high school said Friday that two students and two staffers had tested positive.

Schools statewide reported at least 96 new coronavirus cases among Idaho students and teachers in the past week, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s latest report, released Friday.

Cases in Madison School District, in Eastern Idaho, and Post Falls School District in North Idaho have jumped, according to the report. Four new cases at Madison Senior High brought coronavirus case totals to at least 18 at the school and at least 33 in the district overall. Post Falls High recorded seven cases this week.

The report excludes online and virtual schools, as well as those with fewer than 50 students. Numbers reported by the state may be lower than the actual number of students and staff with confirmed coronavirus tests at each school.

Southwest District Health removed a death from Canyon County’s count. The district spokesperson did not immediately reply to an emailed question about the removal, but cases are sometimes removed when an investigation determines that an individual’s permanent residence is in a different county or state.

Other counties to report new confirmed coronavirus cases: Benewah 1 (166 total), Bingham 18 (1,218), Blaine 8 (812 total), Bonner 6 (414 total), Boundary 1 (64 total), Butte 1 (80 total), Caribou 7 (195 total), Cassia 43 (1,164 total), Clearwater 2 (114 total), Elmore 5 (369 total), Franklin 4 (279 total), Gem 4 (355 total), Gooding 7 (417 total), Idaho 15 (324 total), Jefferson 13 (761 total), Jerome 7 (897 total), Latah 22 (857 total), Lemhi 8 (177 total), Lincoln 10 (135 total), Minidoka 15 (1,037 total), Nez Perce 34 (703 total), Oneida 5 (44 total), Owyhee 4 (350 total), Payette 6 (961 total), Shoshone 8 (249 total), Twin Falls 56 (3,287 total), Valley 4 (106 total), Washington 2 (397 total).


Strained by an influx of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in the region, St. Luke’s Magic Valley has temporarily stopped admitting new child patients, according to a statement posted by the hospital on social media Friday.

Instead, children who need hospitalization will be transferred to St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital in Boise. Current patients will remain in the Magic Valley, and the hospital will continue admitting newborns to the NICU.

The temporary change is part of the hospital’s effort to manage an increase in COVID-19 patients. The statement urged parents to still bring their sick children to St. Luke’s Magic Valley’s emergency, primary or urgent care. Children would be transferred to Boise only if hospitalization was necessary.

“We will always care for your child,” the statement read. “If a transfer is necessary, we will facilitate that transfer.”

The move comes only two days after health care professionals warned South Central Public Health District board members that an influx of coronavirus patients was straining local hospitals and urged the board to implement a mask mandate. Board members voted against a mask mandate, the Times-News reported, voting 6-3 to send a letter asking Idaho Gov. Brad Little to implement a statewide mandate instead. The board did vote to restrict in-person, indoor gatherings to fewer than 50 people, with exceptions for churches, schools, polling places, nonprofits and grocery stores.

Reached by text late Friday night, district spokesperson Brianna Bodily called the increase in cases and the strain at St. Luke’s Magic Valley “incredibly alarming” and warned that the worsening situation would affect everyone who needs emergency medical care, not just COVID-19 patients.

“For months public health has been asking people to social distance, wear masks and stay home when they are sick to prevent this exact situation. All of our local hospitals are reporting significant impact from this disease,” she said.

The Magic Valley region had reported 13 COVID-19 related deaths since Monday, Bodily said, and had 16 outbreaks in long-term care facilities in Twin Falls County alone. Coronavirus spread in the Magic Valley region was mainly linked to small social gatherings.

“When disease is spreading through the community as pervasively as COVID-19 is right now, it is much more likely to work its way into the homes of the vulnerable we have tried desperately to protect,” Bodily wrote to the Statesman. “Our regional hospital is taking emergency action because it is a critical situation. This disease is spreading rapidly and the impact on our community is immense.”


The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare released its weekly update on COVID-19 in care facilities Friday.

Outbreaks at Idaho facilities increased by 13 to 206 overall, total individual cases jumped by 194 (3,289 total) and deaths rose by 11 to 301, with three facilities recording their first death.

Active cases increased to 1,897 at 101 facilities — up from 1,812 at 90 facilities last week. There are 105 facilities with resolved outbreaks.

Below is a list of long-term care facilities by city that have active cases of the coronavirus:

American Falls: Edgewood Spring Creek American Falls; Ammon: Promontory Point Rehabilitation; Ashton: Ashton Memorial Living Center; Bellevue: Cove of Cascadia; Blackfoot: Syringa Chalet Nursing Facility; Boise: Terraces of Boise, Edgewood Spring Creek-Overland, Cascadia of Boise, Garden Plaza of Valley View-Valley View Nursing & Rehab, Garden Plaza of Valley View-The Bridge at Valley View, Overland Court Senior Living, Willow Park Senior Living, Arbor Village at Hillcrest, Arbor Valley of Cascadia, Veranda Senior Living-Barber Station, Park Place Assisted Living of Boise, Edgewood Castle Hills, Independent Living Services-Five Mile, Grace Assisted Living at State St., Shaw Mountain of Cascadia, State Veterans Home-Boise, Independent Living Services Freedom, MorningStar Senior Living of Boise, Edgewood Spring Creek Memory Care-Five Mile;

Bonneville: New Beginnings Community Living; Buhl: Desert View Care, River Rock Assisted Living; Burley: Mini Cassia Care Center, Parke View Rehab; Caldwell: Autumn Wind; Coeur d’Alene: Lacrosse Health & Rehab, Advanced Health Care of Coeur d’Alene, Life Care Center of Coeur d’Alene, Ivy Court; Darlington: Antelope Creek Living Center; Downey: Whispering Pines Assisted Living; Eagle: Edgewood Spring Creek Eagle Island; Emmett: Cherry Ridge Center; Gooding: Desano Place Assisted Living; Idaho Falls: Life Care Center of Idaho Falls, Yellowstone Group Home No. 1, Teton Post-Acute Care and Rehab, Fairwinds-Sand Creek, Good Samaritan-Idaho Falls Village, Parkwood Meadows, Lily and Syringa Assisted Living;

Jerome: CommuniCare No. 8 Lincoln, Ashley Manor-Lincoln; Kuna: Swan Falls Assisted Living; Lewiston: The Orchards; Meridian: Creekside Transitional Care, Touchmark at Meadow Lake Village, Edgewood Spring Creek Meridian, Golden Years Oak Crest, The Cottages-Meridian, Veranda Senior Living-Paramount, Grace Assisted Living-Fairview Lakes, Tomorrow’s Hope-Lavin; Nampa: Meadow View Nursing & Rehab, Streamside Assisted Living, Grace Assisted Living-Nampa, Karcher Estates, Sunny Ridge (Skilled Nursing), Cascadia of Nampa; Payette: Ashley Manor-Beverly Hills; Pocatello: Brookdale Pocatello, Caring Hearts Assisted Living, Copper Summit Assisted Living, Quinn Meadows Rehab & Care Center, State Veterans Home-Pocatello, Independence Home, Elegant Residential Living, Monte Vista Hills;

Post Falls: Guardian Angel Homes, Seven Oaks Community Home-Elm, Seven Oaks Community Home-Larri Lee, Seven Oaks Community Home-Stephanie, Seven Oaks Community Home-Tybalt; Preston: Franklin County Transitional Care, Heritage Senior Living; Rexburg: Madison Carriage Cove, Temple View Transitional Care; Rigby: Rigby Country Living Center; Rupert: Countryside Care and Rehab; Salmon: Discovery Rehab and Living; Sandpoint: Life Care Center of Sandpoint; Shoshone: Lincoln County Care Center; Silverton: Good Samaritan Society-Silver Wood Village; Soda Springs: Caribou Memorial Living Center; St. Anthony: Homestead Assisted Living-St. Anthony;

Twin Falls: Grace Assisted Living-Twin Falls, Brookdale Twin Falls, Oak Creek, Serenity Transitional Care, Bridgeview Estates, Chardonnay Assisted Living, Twin Falls Care, Heritage Assisted Living, Ashley Manor-Parkview; Weiser: Weiser Care of Cascadia, Indianhead Estates; Winchester: Lakeside Assisted Living.


Overall hospitalizations: Health and Welfare reports that there have been 2,387 hospitalizations of people with COVID-19, 527 admissions to the ICU and 3,626 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 Oct. 22, the health system was reporting 74 patients in its hospitals with confirmed COVID-19 out of 559 patients overall. The health system reported a 14-day coronavirus test positivity rate of 12%.

Saint Alphonsus Health System: As of Oct. 22, the health system was reporting 49 patients in its hospitals with confirmed COVID-19 out of 424 patients overall. The health system reported a 14-day coronavirus test positivity rate of 11.56%.

Boise School District: The district says the following schools or units have reported confirmed COVID-19 cases among students or staff since Oct. 20: Amity Elementary (1), Boise Online School (2), Fairmont Junior High (1), Roosevelt Elementary (1), Timberline High School (1) and Whittier Elementary (1).

Testing totals: At the end of the day Friday, Health and Welfare reported that 366,047 people had been tested statewide. About 14% of those have been positive for COVID-19.

Counties with community spread: All counties except Adams have been announced to have community spread.

Counties with confirmed COVID-19 cases: Ada 14,174, Adams 42, Bannock 1636, Bear Lake 62, Benewah 166, Bingham 1218, Blaine 812, Boise 60, Bonner 414, Bonneville 3,390, Boundary 64, Butte 80, Camas 33, Canyon 8984, Caribou 195, Cassia 1164, Clark 33, Clearwater 114, Custer 83, Elmore 369, Franklin 279, Fremont 419, Gem 355, Gooding 417, Idaho 324, Jefferson 761, Jerome 897, Kootenai 3,602, Latah 857, Lemhi 177, Lewis 71, Lincoln 135, Madison 2,039, Minidoka 1,037, Nez Perce 703, Oneida 44, Owyhee 350, Payette 961, Power 304, Shoshone 249, Teton 249, Twin Falls 3,287, Valley 106, Washington 397.