Idaho adds 149 COVID-19 cases as count stays low, but variants continue to

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This article was originally published by Ian Max Stevenson in the Idaho Statesman.

Idaho added only 149 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, continuing a recent trend, but state health experts said the number of variant cases is increasing.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Christopher Ball, bureau chief and laboratory director of the Idaho Bureau of Laboratories, said that Idaho continues to see multiple “variants of concern” circulating. Variants are labeled “of concern” when evidence suggests they may be more transmissible, virulent or resistant to public health measures, according to the CDC.

Ball told reporters that the most common variant in Idaho is B.1.1.7, first identified in the United Kingdom. The variants B.1.427 and B.1.429, first identified in California, are also increasingly present, as is the P.1 variant, first found in Brazil.

“It has been a bit concerning to see that one pop up,” Ball said of the Brazil variant.

On Tuesday, Ball said that the state shortly will be tripling the number of COVID-19 tests that can be sequenced each week, the result of a new contract with an out-of-state laboratory. Genomic sequencing is a method used by health experts to analyze COVID-19 samples to see whether new variations of the virus are present in a population.

Ball emphasized that the three vaccines that have been granted authorizations from the Food and Drug Administration have been shown to be “very beneficial” against COVID-19. Idaho’s vaccination rate continues to lag.

IDAHO ADDS DEATH IN ADDITION TO NEW CASES

Idaho added just one COVID-19 related death Tuesday. The individual who died was a Clearwater County (14 total) resident in their 70s, according to updated demographic data.

Since last March, 2,087 people have died in Idaho for COVID-19-related reasons. Data from Health and Welfare shows that 8,374 people have been hospitalized with COVID-19 and 110,932 are estimated to have recovered. The caseload since the virus reached Idaho stands at 191,546.

The following counties reported new cases Tuesday: Ada (37 new, 52,681 total), Bannock (7 new, 8,827 total), Bear Lake (1 new, 390 total), Benewah (2 new, 692 total), Bingham (2 new, 4,846 total), Bonner (5 new, 3,292 total), Bonneville (7 new, 14,961 total), Canyon (23 new, 27,058 total), Clearwater (6 new, 1,064 total), Elmore (2 new, 2,062 total), Fremont (2 new, 1,136 total), Idaho (5 new, 1,258 total), Jefferson (1 new, 3,016 total), Jerome (2 new, 2,621 total), Kootenai (27 new, 18,475 total), Lemhi (1 new, 532 total), Lewis (1 new, 411 total), Madison (6 new, 7,259 total), Nez Perce (3 new, 3,665 total), Oneida (1 new, 363 total), Owyhee (1 new, 1,076 total), Payette (1 new, 2,579 total), Twin Falls (5 new, 9,633 total), Valley (1 new, 845 total).

DAILY DETAILS

Vaccine doses administered in Idaho: 1,206,200, according to Health and Welfare. Of those, 582,937 people have been fully vaccinated.

Overall hospitalizations: Health and Welfare reports that there have been 8,374 hospitalizations of people with COVID-19, 1,409 admissions to the ICU and 10,701 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 May 24, the health system was reporting 17 patients in its hospitals with confirmed COVID-19 out of 490patients overall. The health system reported a 14-day coronavirus test positivity rate of 4%.

Saint Alphonsus Health System: As of May 24, the health system was reporting 29 patients in its hospitals with confirmed COVID-19 out of 373 patients overall. The health system reported a 14-day coronavirus test positivity rate of 5.3%.

Boise School District: Reported confirmed cases since May 11: Amity Elementary (1), Boise High (1), Borah High (1), Capital High (3), District Services Center/Food Services/Facilities and Operations/Transportation (3), East Jr. High (2), Fairmont Jr. High (2), Garfield Elementary (2), Hillcrest Elementary (1), Hillside Jr. High (2), Lowell Scott Elementary (1), Morley Nelson Elementary (1), Riverglen Jr. High (3), Shadow Hills Elementary (1), West Jr. High (1), Whitney Elementary (2).

West Ada School District: Reported confirmed cases for May 12-May 25: Meridian High (4), Mountain View High (1), Renaissance High (1), Eagle Middle (2), Lake Hazel Middle (1), Lewis and Clark Middle (1), Meridian Middle (1), Star Middle (1), Victory Middle (4), Christine Donnell School of the Arts (1), Willow Creek Elementary (1).

Total COVID-19 cases by county (confirmed + probable): Ada 52,681, Adams 341, Bannock 8,827, Bear Lake 390, Benewah 692, Bingham 4,846, Blaine 2,384, Boise 364, Bonner 3,292, Bonneville 14,961, Boundary 872, Butte 211, Camas 72, Canyon 27,058, Caribou 700, Cassia 2,947, Clark 59, Clearwater 1,064, Custer 253, Elmore 2,062, Franklin 1,197, Fremont 1,136, Gem 1,800, Gooding 1,317, Idaho 1,258, Jefferson 3,016, Jerome 2,621, Kootenai 18,475, Latah 3,191, Lemhi 532, Lewis 411, Lincoln 511, Madison 7,259, Minidoka 2,342, Nez Perce 3,665, Oneida 363, Owyhee 1,076, Payette 2,579, Power 656, Shoshone 1,135, Teton 1,227, Twin Falls 9,633, Valley 845, Washington 1,225.

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