Blaine County’s COVID-19 risk level was lowered from “high” to “moderate” on Thursday, with the numbers of positive test results and new COVID-19 cases both dropping.
In the county’s risk-assessment model, using data from April 25 to May 1, the rate of COVID-19 tests registering as positive decreased from 5.43% to 3.08% the previous week. A rate between 1% and 5% is deemed a “moderate” risk. In the same week, the county’s number of new daily cases per hypothetical 100,000 residents decreased from 14.9 to 6.2 the previous week, based on a seven-day average. A rate between 1 and 10 per 100,000 is considered a “moderate” risk.
The impact on hospital capacity—both local and regional—was deemed “minimal.”
The county’s model has four risk categories: minimal, moderate, high and critical. The risk level has been in the two higher categories much of this year.
New COVID-19 cases—only 10 during the week—were distributed across several age groups, with the numbers trending toward younger people. The 14-17 age group had the most new cases in the county in the seven-day span, at three. Two cases were recorded in both the 18-29 and 30-39 age groups.
“COVID-19 variants have been detected and confirmed in Blaine County and several other counties in the region,” the county’s online informational dashboard states. “Mask wearing and vaccination remains important.”
The so-called California variant, known by scientists as B.1.429, and a variant first discovered in the United Kingdom, known as B.1.1.7, were confirmed to have infected a small number of Blaine County residents earlier this year. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified both variants as a “Variant of Concern” that can spread more easily and quickly than the original strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that caused the pandemic.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare recorded 202 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 statewide on Wednesday. Since the pandemic began last winter, the state has recorded 188,435 cases and 2,052 COVID-related deaths.
Blaine County has recorded 2,368 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, with 18 deaths attributed to the virus.
The Blaine County dashboard states that about 65% of the county’s residents are fully vaccinated, with either two shots of the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one inoculation of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The Department of Health and Welfare reported Thursday that 14,166 people in Blaine County had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine—about 75% of residents 16 and older.
By Thursday morning, Idaho health-care providers had administered more than 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to 614,426 people, with 516,433 deemed fully vaccinated, the Department of Health and Welfare reported.
In Idaho, anyone age 16 or older can receive a COVID-19 vaccine for free. People ages 16 and 17 can only receive the Pfizer vaccine. Minors must have parental consent or a special exemption.
St. Luke’s Wood River has administered more than 8,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine to staff and patients since the vaccine was first distributed in December, said Joy Prudek, public relations manager for the organization.
“It’s wonderful to see our community have such strong demand for the vaccine,” Prudek said.
St. Luke’s Wood River has experienced a slight drop in demand for the vaccine but is still filling most appointments, she said.
More than 150 shots were administered at an evening clinic on Wednesday, Prudek said. Additional vaccination clinics are scheduled at the hospital campus south of Ketchum on Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday, she said.
St. Luke’s will bring its new mobile vaccination unit to the Wood River Valley on Monday, May 10, when it will be stationed at the headquarters of The Hunger Coalition in Bellevue. The unit will offer inoculations of the Pfizer and J&J vaccines at other locations in the valley on May 11, 12, 13 and 15. To see the full schedule, go to the vaccine page of the St. Luke’s website at stlukesonline.org.
Prudek applauded the work of all COVID-19 vaccine providers in the county.
“It’s just been a wonderful effort,” she said.