The South Central Public Health District on Thursday maintained Blaine County’s COVID-19 risk level at “moderate,” noting that the county’s case rate is declining but its test positivity rate is elevated.

In its monthly risk assessment of the eight counties it serves, the Health District reported that Blaine County’s rate for positive COVID-19 tests was 12.2%, in the “high” category. That is down from 22.1% a month ago, when it was in the “critical” range and more than four times the “minimal” goal of 5% or lower.

The 14-day rolling average of new cases per 10,000 residents was 1.82, in the “moderate” range and “steadily declining,” the district reported. That is down from 4.05 a month ago, when it was in the “high” category.

The Health District has now rated Blaine County’s overall COVID-19 risk as “moderate” for three consecutive months.

Because many people do not report the results of at-home COVID-19 tests, the Health District stated that it is possible the case rate is higher than data shows.

For the assessment, the district used data from July 31 to Aug. 13.

The district reported that Blaine County had 16 new COVID-19 cases recorded in the week of Aug. 12-18.

A decline in cases has also been recorded on a statewide level. In Idaho, the seven-day moving average incidence rate of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population was 17.5 on Friday, after it had increased to 36 on July 11, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported. It had previously dropped to about 3 in early April. During the omicron-variant surge last winter, the number soared to about 243.

Daily COVID-19 hospitalizations in Idaho have declined by about a third since late July, federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data indicate. About 70 COVID-related deaths have been recorded in Idaho in the last month.

Through Friday, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare had recorded 486,100 COVID-19 cases statewide and 5,090 COVID-related deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. The state recorded 612 new COVID-19 cases between Wednesday and Friday.

Through Friday, Health and Welfare had recorded 6,706 COVID-19 cases in Blaine County since the pandemic started, contributing to 31 deaths.

Nationally, daily case numbers have been slowly decreasing in August. The CDC’s daily seven-day moving average of new case numbers was about 120,000 a month ago but had dropped to about 90,000 by Friday. It had dropped to about 25,000 in March, after the new-case count surged to more than a million in one day in early January.

The CDC has determined that the highly contagious BA.5 subvariant of the omicron variant of COVID-19 now accounts for about 89% of new cases.

The CDC on Monday rated Blaine County’s COVID-19 impact level at “low.” At that level, the CDC advises that people stay up to date with vaccines, wear a mask if they have symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19, and to wear a mask on public transportation. People can consider taking extra precautions to protect themselves and others, the CDC advises. 

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