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As COVID-19 cases increase in all 50 states, Blaine County’s risk level for the virus was determined to be “minimal” on Thursday, July 15.

In a risk assessment conducted by the South Central Public Health District, the district deemed Blaine County’s risk to be in the lowest category, like its seven other counties. The assessment—which is done every two weeks—used data from June 27 to July 10.

The district’s model takes into consideration the number of new cases, the rate of positive tests for the virus, hospital capacity and other factors. It has four risk categories: minimal, moderate, high and critical.

In the 14-day period, three new COVID-19 cases were recorded in the 70-plus age group, two new cases in each of the 50-59, 30-39 and 18-29 age groups, and one case in the 14-17 age group.

The rate of positive tests for COVID-19 was 2.33% and the 14-day rolling average of new cases per 10,000 residents was 0.31—all in the “minimal” range.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases have been increasing across the nation, with all 50 states showing a bump in infections. On Friday, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded 39,909 new cases in the nation, after hitting a low for the year of 8,561 on June 13. The numbers have been trending upward since that time, CDC data indicate.

Idaho’s COVID-19 case numbers have also been trending upward. On Saturday, the daily seven-day moving average case rate was 8.1 per 100,000 residents, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported. The number was 3.3 on July 5.

On Friday—the last day of reporting—Health and Welfare recorded 161 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 statewide. Two weeks earlier, the number was 83. Since the pandemic began last winter, the state has recorded 196,856 COVID-19 cases and 2,173 COVID-related deaths.

Blaine County has had 2,415 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, with 18 deaths attributed to the virus, the department reported.

Numerous health experts have attributed the increase in cases to the emergence of the Delta variant as the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the United States, as many Americans—many of them still not vaccinated—have lowered their guard and foregone taking protective measures. The Delta variant—first identified in India—has been determined to be more transmissible and to sometimes cause more severe illness.

Last week, the South Central Public Health District reported that the Delta variant had been confirmed in the district, in Twin Falls County. The U.K. and California variants of the virus were discovered in Blaine County earlier this year through a special testing project that has since ended.

President Joe Biden today encouraged more Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Vaccination rates have slowed in the nation and in Idaho.

“Get vaccinated now,” Biden said.

By Friday, Idaho health-care providers had administered 1,357,663 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to 732,108 people, with 679,065 deemed fully vaccinated, the Department of Health and Welfare reported. An estimated 45.1% of eligible Idahoans have been fully vaccinated, the department 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 age 12 or older can receive a COVID-19 vaccine for free. People ages 12 to 17 can only receive the two-dose Pfizer vaccine. Minors must have parental consent or a special exemption to be vaccinated.

By Friday, 78% of Blaine County residents ages 12 and older were fully vaccinated and an additional 6% had received one dose of a two-dose vaccine regimen, Health and Welfare reported.

Blaine County’s vaccination rate is the highest in the state.

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