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Idaho vaccination rates sees slight increase; CDC says to mask up

Shopping masks
Posted at 5:40 PM, Jul 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-28 00:01:52-04

The CDC’s reversal on masks comes more than two months after the announcement that those vaccinated didn’t need to wear face coverings indoors or outdoors.

At that time, the Delta variant was not prominent in the country and cases were low. With the newer, more contagious variation of COVID-19, the CDC is recommending masks once again.

Idaho is seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases around the state and right here in the Treasure Valley with 373 new cases across the state on Monday.

“Case counts are going up in every state. I think this means we’re in a worse situation now,” Former CEO of St. Luke’s Health System Dr. David Pate said.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) reports around 30 cases of the Delta variant. State Epidemiologist Christine Hahn said it's hard to pinpoint exactly where those cases are due to limited lab capacities.

“We’ve seen this Delta variant spread across the country and across Idaho as well. That combined with a large proportion of the population who has still not been vaccinated has contributed to the CDC’s decision to update their mask guidance,” Regence Executive Medical Director Dr. Amy Khan said.

Ada County and Canyon County are at the front of the case surge and medical professionals say it's partly because of their population size.

“It's not surprising to have areas with the highest population to potentially see the most transmission, particularly this Delta variant. Persons who are susceptible will be more likely to acquire infection and those who now have been fully vaxxed, could potentially transmit - hence the recommendation by the CDC to wear those masks particularly indoors and when in crowded areas,” Khan said.

IDHW

According to the IDHW data dashboard, the state has seen an increase in vaccinations over the last two weeks. But still, roughly only about 37% of the Idaho population is fully vaccinated.

Out of the over 400,000 Ada County residents about 56% are vaccinated and in Canyon County only around 42% of the 68,000 residents are vaccinated.

“We are not near the point where we can even talk about herd immunity and if you look across the United States, we probably have 100,000,000 people that are at risk for the virus. To use a wildfire analogy, there's a lot of timber to burn out there for this fire,” Pate said.

The CDC says vaccines have been working to protect from illness - and although breakthrough cases are happening - officials still recommend following the CDC's guidance of wearing a mask when necessary.

Central District Health (CDH) says it supports the updated guidance from the CDC. All four counties served by CDH currently fall under substantial or high transmission, and CDH is recommending that people in these areas wear a mask in indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status.

Current levels of transmission in CDH’s jurisdiction:

  • Ada County – substantial transmission
  • Boise County – substantial transmission
  • Elmore County – substantial transmission
  • Valley County – high transmission