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Boise area still at high COVID-19 risk, latest CDC data show. What this means for you

Idaho Statesman - 8/5/2022

The latest data on COVID-19 shows cases in the Treasure Valley may have plateaued. But we’re not in the clear yet.

Positivity rates and hospitalizations in the region have been increasing since late March. Now it appears that those numbers peaked last month.

Dr. David Pate, a member of Gov. Brad Little’s Coronavirus Working Group, told the Idaho Statesman by phone that some evidence suggests the latest COVID-19 surge in Idaho is leveling off.

“If I see cases declining, and hospitalizations declining, then I get hopeful we’re getting over this surge,” Pate said. “When you’re going through it, it’s hard to know if you’ve plateaued. But there are a lot of pieces of evidence that would suggest maybe we have.”

The risk of catching the respiratory disease is improving in some areas.

This week, Canyon and Boise counties dropped down from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s red, or high-risk, zone and into the yellow zone, or medium risk. In the yellow zone, the agency recommends immunocompromised people speak with their doctor about whether to wear a mask in public spaces.

In many counties in Southwest Idaho, however, things are still not looking good. For weeks, Ada and Elmore counties have remained stuck in the CDC’s red zone, where universal masking indoors is recommended.

“There’s lots of disease out there, and if anybody still cares about getting infected, and the potential long-term effects to your health, then I would certainly be taking precautions right now,” said Pate, the former CEO and president of St. Luke’s Health System. “I certainly am.”

Here’s what the latest CDC metrics released Thursday say:

Case rates.Ada County’s COVID-19 case rate fell from 253 per 100,000 people the previous week to about 209, a 17% decrease. Canyon County’s case rate fell from 209 to about 178, nearly a 15% decline.

Hospital admissions. In Ada and Canyon counties, COVID-19 hospital admissions decreased from 20.8 per 100,000 people to 18.8.

Hospital beds filled. Staffed inpatient beds in use by confirmed COVID-19 patients in Ada and Canyon counties decreased slightly from 8.8% the previous week to 8.7%.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare tracks statewide rates of positive test results. Here’s what those numbers say:

Positive test results.Positivity rates for COVID-19 decreased from 12% for the week of July 17-23 to 11.6% for July 24-30. This percentage had been increasing for months and reached a peak in early July.

This small decline may be a sign of progress, but Pate said the 11.6% is still more than double the 5% benchmark experts use to indicate control of the disease’s spread.

“We know that whatever the disease activity is, it’s higher than what that number is showing,” he said. “We can’t get a more precise idea of just how bad the transmission is, because so much of the testing is not being reported.”


Other Idaho counties in the red zone include Adams, Washington, Payette, Twin Falls, Jerome and Lemhi.

Counties in the yellow zone include Canyon, Boise, Gem, Valley, Owyhee, Gooding, Lincoln, Minidoka, Cassia, Butte, Custer, Clark, Jefferson, Fremont, Madison, Teton, Bonneville, Caribou, Bear Lake, Franklin and Lewis.

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