Covid Vaccines

Blaine County’s COVID-19 case rate climbed slightly in recent days, after falling to an eight-month low last week.

The county’s seven-day moving average incidence rate per hypothetical 100,000 population was 4.3 on Monday, May 24. It had been 3.1 on Sunday. The rate was 1.9 on Thursday, May 20, its lowest point since early September, according to Idaho Department of Health and Welfare data.

The county’s incidence rate peaked this year at 81.9 on Jan. 23.

Statewide, the seven-day average incidence rate was 8.5 on Monday.

Last Thursday, Blaine County’s COVID-19 risk level was rated as “moderate,” despite some risk factors being deemed minimal.

In the county’s risk-assessment model—using data from May 9-15—the rate of COVID-19 tests registering as positive decreased to 0% from 0.37% the previous week. A rate below 1% is deemed a “minimal” risk in the county’s model. In the same week, the county’s incidence rate increased to 5.6 from 3.7 the previous week. A rate between 1 and 10 per 100,000 is considered a “moderate” risk.

Health officials said it is possible to have new cases while having a 0% positivity rate because not all test results are reported to the Department of Health and Welfare, which compiles COVID-19 data. Only health-care providers who receive testing supplies from the state report test results to the state agency, and probable cases—such as those of people exposed to someone confirmed to have COVID-19—are not reported as positive test cases.

Josh Jensen, program manager for the South Central Public Health District, said health officials conducting the risk assessment generally put more emphasis on the case rate than the positivity rate. Because the case rate in last week’s assessment was above 5, it was determined that the overall risk posed by COVID-19 was in the “moderate” category and not the “minimal” category, he said.

“We want to see the case rate get close to 1 or below,” he said.

The county’s online COVID-19 informational dashboard states that “mask wearing and vaccination remains important,” after three cities in the Wood River Valley last week rescinded local mask mandates.

A new Blaine County COVID-19 risk assessment will be released on Thursday, May 27.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Welfare recorded 250 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 statewide on Monday. Since the pandemic began last winter, the state has recorded 191,397 cases and 2,086 COVID-related deaths.

Blaine County has had 2,384 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, with 18 deaths attributed to the virus, the department reported.

The South Central Public Health District on Monday was monitoring seven confirmed COVID-19 cases and nine probable cases in Blaine County.

By Tuesday afternoon, Idaho health-care providers had administered 1,206,200 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to 663,720 people, with 582,397 deemed fully vaccinated, the Department of Health and Welfare reported. To be fully vaccinated, people must receive either two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one inoculation of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

In Idaho, anyone 12 or older can receive a COVID-19 vaccine for free. People ages 12-17 can only receive the two-dose Pfizer vaccine. Minors must have parental consent or a special exemption to be vaccinated.

In Blaine County, 78.5% of people 12 and older have received at least one vaccine dose, with 69% of that population fully vaccinated, the Department of Health and Welfare reported Tuesday. Blaine County’s vaccination rate remains the highest rate in the state.

The White House announced Tuesday that the United States was expected to reach an important milestone that day, with 50% of adults being fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

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