Idaho's COVID-19 data plateauing; omicron concerning health officials

Posted at 4:48 PM, Dec 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-15 11:40:16-05

While Idaho was headed in a better direction in its fight against COVID-19, over the last two weeks the numbers have started to flatten out and head in the wrong direction.

With the omicron variant now present in Ada County, health officials are concerned.

Idaho's testing positivity has been flat for the last four weeks sitting around 7%, which is a little above the state's target of under 5%, according to the Department of Health and Welfare.

COVID-19 cases have plateaued and even seen a slight increase over the last few weeks health officials say and the decline in hospitalizations has nearly leveled off.

Idaho still ranks among the states with the lowest vaccination rate as only 51% of the population ages five and up are fully vaccinated, health officials continue to urge the community to get their shot as now the new omicron variant is present in Ada County.

State Epidemiologist Christine Hahn said omicron is spreading more quickly and starting to take over the delta variant. Idaho health officials expect to see more cases in Idaho coming as the pandemic continues.

“CDC is now estimating that 3% of US infections are due to omicron variant. In South Africa where it was first reported to cause an outbreak, they have over 90% of infections are now estimated due to the omicron variant," Hahn said.

While COVID-19 has impacted all age groups, those in long-term care facilities in Idaho were hit hard early on with more than 12,000 cases to date and more than 1,000 long-term care patient deaths.

It’s been one year since Idahoans in long-term care facilities have been able to get vaccinated and many residents have gotten the vaccine.

“The hope is seen in immunizations. They are safe and they are effective. When the immunization rate increases in the community, community cases drop, and when community cases drop so do long-term cases,” medical doctor Megan Dunay, who specializes in family medicine and geriatrics said.

According to the Department of Health and Welfare from April to November of 2020 — 1 out of every 5 of the long-term residents were infected with COVID-19 but during the same time period this year — that number decreased by 60%.