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The mounting COVID-19 caseload is putting pressure on Idaho’s health-care network.

Blaine County remained in the “critical” risk category for coronavirus on Thursday, based on new data assessed through the county’s risk model.

“Blaine County’s average new case rate has been in the critical zone for several weeks and is still rising,” the county’s online informational dashboard states. “Investigation and contact tracing efforts are impacted due to a surge in cases around the region. The local hospital is operating at a moderate impact and regional hospitals are operating at a critical impact.”

In Blaine County, 26 confirmed new cases and three probable cases were recorded Wednesday, the largest single-day increase since April 3. There have been 973 confirmed and 63 probable cases recorded in Blaine County since the beginning of the pandemic in March, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported.

The county’s risk level is assessed through its model every Thursday. The latest assessment on Nov. 12 used data from Nov. 1-7.

The rate of positive coronavirus tests in the county was 11 percent over the seven-day period. The number of new daily cases per 100,000 residents, based on a seven-day average, was 49.6. Both of those figures meet the criteria of the “critical” risk category, the highest of the four categories in the county’s model.

Fifteen new cases were recorded in the 18-29 age group, the highest figure across all age categories. Thirteen new cases were recorded in the 50-59 age group, and 12 cases in the 60-69 age group. Other age categories in the county had fewer cases.

Meanwhile, the state of Idaho recorded its highest single-day increase in coronavirus cases Wednesday, with 1,693 confirmed and probable cases. The previous single-day record tally for the state was on Saturday, with 1,403 cases. The state’s total number of cases recorded since March was 77,121 on Wednesday, with 733 deaths attributed to COVID-19-related illnesses.

The spike in coronavirus cases has been putting pressure on health-care facilities. St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center, the regional hospital in Twin Falls, was forced to divert some patients away from the Intensive Care Unit to other facilities Tuesday night because a surge in patients being treated for COVID-19 illnesses had temporarily brought the hospital to full capacity.

St. Luke’s Magic Valley was treating 75 COVID-positive inpatients Wednesday morning. The hospital has 224 beds for all types of patients.

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