Idaho’s Coronavirus Trendline: Legislature Shuts Down As Parts Of State Lead Nation In New Cases

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BY KEVIN RICHERT / IdahoEdNews.org

Originally posted on IdahoEdNews.org on March 19, 2021

Lawmakers mull around on the Senate floor Friday morning, shortly before the Legislature announced an 18-day recess.

As a coronavirus outbreak prompted the Legislature to take a historic 18-day recess, Idaho’s new case numbers crept upward this week.

On Friday, the state and its seven health districts reported 177,292 confirmed or probable coronavirus cases, a 1.3 percent increase from last week.

It’s the second straight week that new case numbers have increased.

On Friday morning, the Legislature recessed until April 6, following a week in which at least six House members tested positive for coronavirus. “We need to emphasize that none of the things will be left undone, it just presses pause,” House Speaker Scott Bedke said Friday morning, minutes after the House voted to go on recess.

Lawmakers in the Idaho House of Representative debate a bill on Wednesday, March 17, 2021. They approved a massive income tax cut backers say provides much-needed relief but that opponents say is a giveaway to the rich that will result in long-lasting harm. CREDIT: Keith Ridler/AP

Lawmakers in the Idaho House of Representative debate a bill on Wednesday, March 17, 2021. On Friday, March 19, both chambers voted to recess until at least April 6 due to several new COVID-19 cases in House members in one week. CREDIT: Keith Ridler/AP

“I’m glad we are taking a pause as the spread accelerates,” House Assistant Minority Leader Lauren Necochea, D-Boise, tweeted Friday. “We could have done so much better than this.”

Beyond the Statehouse, the coronavirus spread was particularly acute in Eastern Idaho.

On Thursday, the New York Times reported that Idaho Falls had the nation’s highest rate of new cases, based on population. Rexburg ranked third in the nation. (Details on Eastern Idaho’s outbreak from Kyle Pfannenstiel of the Post Register.)

This week, Eastern Idaho counties account for the state’s seven highest infection rates. (Scroll down for a rundown of county hotspots.)

While case numbers trended upward — along with the percentage of positive test results — one key metric trended in the right direction. Vaccinations reached a new weekly record, increasing by 11 percent.

In another coronavirus headline from the week, Gov. Brad Little said Idaho would accept funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, the $1.9 trillion federal stimulus law passed last week. The state and local governments would receive some $3 billion; Idaho K-12 and higher education would receive more than $500 million. The stimulus law passed Congress with no GOP support, and the Republican Little said he believed the spending plan was too big and too expensive, a year into the pandemic.

Here are this week’s numbers, and comparisons with the previous week:

Statewide data March 12 March 19 Change, March 6-12 Change, March 13-19
Cases, confirmed and probable 175,044 177,292 2,125 2,248
Total cases, ages 0-4 2,617 2,657 37 40
Total cases, ages 5-12 6,487 6,628 115 141
Total cases, ages 13-17 10,013 10,182 164 169
Total cases, ages 18-29 43,627 44,120 528 493
Deaths 1,910 1,942 33 32
Patients ever hospitalized 7,295 7,428 116 133
Patients ever admitted to ICU 1,258 1,275 13 17
Patients recovered, estimated 97,315 98,694 1,507 1,379
Total tests administered 1,129,080 1,152,552 27,232 23,472
Health care workers infected 9,770 9,849 73 79
Idahoans vaccinated 311,860 361,235 40,176 49,375
Idahoans fully vaccinated 187,163 225,158 37,520 37,995
Vaccine doses administered 495,633 578,288 74,296 82,655

Weekly positive test rate, as reported by the state: 5.5 percent for week ending March 13, up from 4.6 percent the previous three weeks.

Top 10 counties, by total cases March 12 March 19 New cases, March 13-19 New cases per day, per 100,000 population
Ada 47,727 48,292 565 16.8
Canyon 25,010 25,241 231 14.4
Kootenai 16,929 17,027 98 8.4
Bonneville 12,971 13,508 537 64.4
Twin Falls 9,060 9,092 32 5.3
   
Bannock 8,073 8,213 140 22.8
Madison 6,551 6,676 125 45.0
Bingham 4,426 4,542 116 35.4
Nez Perce 3,402 3,445 43 15.2
Bonner 3,037 3,064 27 8.4
Ten hotspot counties (most daily cases, per 100,000 population) March 12 March 19 New cases, March 13-19 New cases per day, per 100,000 population
Bonneville 12,971 13,508 537 64.4
Jefferson 2,581 2,675   94 45.0
Madison 6,551 6,676 125 45.0
Bingham 4,426 4,542 116 35.4
Clark 54 56 2 33.8
Bannock 8,073 8,213 140 22.8
Teton 1,111 1,129 18 21.1
Ada 47,727 48,292 565 16.8
Shoshone 1,019 1,033 14 15.5
Washington 1,180 1,191 11 15.4