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


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Originally posted on 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 dataMarch 12March 19Change, March 6-12Change, March 13-19
Cases, confirmed and probable175,044177,2922,1252,248
Total cases, ages 0-42,6172,6573740
Total cases, ages 5-126,4876,628115141
Total cases, ages 13-1710,01310,182164169
Total cases, ages 18-2943,62744,120528493
Patients ever hospitalized7,2957,428116133
Patients ever admitted to ICU1,2581,2751317
Patients recovered, estimated97,31598,6941,5071,379
Total tests administered1,129,0801,152,55227,23223,472
Health care workers infected9,7709,8497379
Idahoans vaccinated311,860361,23540,17649,375
Idahoans fully vaccinated187,163225,15837,52037,995
Vaccine doses administered495,633578,28874,29682,655

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 casesMarch 12March 19New cases, March 13-19New cases per day, per 100,000 population
Twin Falls9,0609,092325.3
Nez Perce3,4023,4454315.2
Ten hotspot counties (most daily cases, per 100,000 population)March 12March 19New cases, March 13-19New cases per day, per 100,000 population
Jefferson2,5812,675   9445.0