COVID-19 cases in Ada County, Idaho, trending downward

Farewell, universal interior masking in Boise, even though most people were unaware of it anyway. Good riddance.

At least for now.

People in Idaho are still dying from COVID-19. But disease metrics in Treasure Valley are eventually trending down. Ada County just exited the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s highest COVID-19 alert level, where universal indoor masking is recommended, after staying there for months.

The county moved to the medium level, or yellow zone, on Thursday.

At the medium level, the CDC suggests that immunocompromised people talk to their healthcare providers about whether to wear a mask and take other precautions. Lemhi County is the only county in Idaho still in the red zone.

But you may still need to mask up in hospitals and other health care facilities, and some employers may still require a mask indoors. Preventive actions in health facilities such as hospitals, rehabilitation centers and nursing homes are not linked to COVID-19 community levels, according to the CDC.

38 Idahoans die in 4 weeks

Statewide COVID-19 deaths, while higher in recent months than in April and May, are significantly lower than in previous outbreaks of the pandemic.

In the past four weeks, 38 Idahoans have died from COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 5,059 total deaths in the state, with a rate of nearly 277 deaths per 100,000 population.

Idaho Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Kathryn Turner says the variants currently circulating do not cause disease as severe as the alpha and delta surges. The delta variant tended to deposit and replicate lower in the airways.

“This is likely due to differences in mutations in how they infect the person as well as higher population immunity in more recent surges,” Turner said in an email to the Statesman. .

The level of community immunity from vaccination or natural infection also likely contributed to milder disease when people were infected, she added.

Turner said she expects deaths to decline in a few weeks as cases decline as the current outbreak slows.

“Death trends lag case trends by about three weeks,” she said.

What a new case, hospital data shows

New data released by the agency found improved positivity rates — the percentage of positive test results — and hospitalizations for many Treasure Valley counties. In late July, Ada, Canyon Elmore and Boise counties were all listed as high risk by the CDC’s COVID-19. community level dashboard.

Now all of those counties are in the yellow. Here’s what the latest numbers from the CDC say:

Rates per case. The share of people with COVID-19 in Ada County fell from 209 per 100,000 people the previous week to about 158, a decrease of 24%. Canyon County’s case rate fell from 178 to about 145, a drop of nearly 19%.

Admission to hospital. In Ada and Canyon counties, COVID-19 hospital admissions fell from 18.8 per 100,000 people to 10.

Full hospital beds. Staffed inpatient beds used by confirmed COVID-19 patients in Ada and Canyon counties fell to 7% from 8.7% the previous week.

The CDC does not include positive test results when assessing county status, but the Idaho Department of Health and Wellness tracks the number of positive test results statewide. Positivity rates for COVID-19 fell from 11.2% for the week of July 24-30 to 10.6% for July 31-August 6.

Although the decline is a sign of progress, 10.6% is still double the 5% benchmark used by experts to indicate control of the spread of the disease. And experts say the rate is likely higher because many people are testing at home and not reporting their illnesses to authorities.

CDC relaxes requirements for exposed individuals

On Thursday, the CDC updated its COVID-19 guidelines, easing testing and isolation requirements for those exposed to the disease, according to a news release.

Instead of quarantining when exposed to COVID-19, the agency now recommends people wear a high-quality mask for 10 days and get tested on day 5. The CDC also no longer recommends testing asymptomatic people with no known exposure.

If people do positive test for the virusthey must stay at home for at least five days.

“This guidance recognizes that the pandemic is not over but also helps us reach a point where COVID-19 is no longer severely disrupting our daily lives,” the CDC’s Greta Massetti said in a statement.

This story was originally published August 12, 2022 1:03 p.m.

Angela Palermo covers business and public health for the Idaho statesman. She grew up in Hagerman and graduated from the University of Idaho, where she studied journalism and business. Angela has previously covered education for the Lewiston Tribune and the Moscow-Pullman Daily News.
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