As state health officials recorded an increase in the number of omicron variant cases of COVID-19 in Idaho, Blaine County’s hospital announced that it is boosting capacity for testing for the novel coronavirus.
In a tweet Wednesday, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare stated that “there are now 19 confirmed omicron cases in Idaho, and an additional 150 that may be omicron based on initial test characteristics.” The agency said final results will be posted later this week on the state’s COVID-19 website.
Yesterday, the number of detected omicron cases in Idaho was three.
The highly transmissible omicron variant is believed by experts to be a major factor in a surge of COVID-19 cases in the country. On Tuesday, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded a record-high 431,567 new COVID-19 cases in the United States, following a rising trend since it recorded around 24,000 new cases on Oct. 24.
Blaine County’s COVID-19 case rate has now increased more than seven-fold in the last two weeks. The seven-day moving average of new daily cases per hypothetical 100,000 residents was 62.1 on Tuesday, after dropping to 8.7 on Dec. 16, state Department of Health and Welfare data shows.
The South Central Public Health District—which serves eight counties, including Blaine County—was monitoring 85 confirmed and 17 probable COVID-19 cases in Blaine County on Thursday, Dec. 23. By Tuesday, the numbers had increased to 136 confirmed and 44 probable cases.
The spike in cases has caused a significant increase in demand for COVID-19 testing at St. Luke’s Wood River hospital. Joy Prudek, the organization’s public relations manager, said Wednesday that St. Luke’s will significantly increase its testing capacity at the Wood River site on Thursday. Daily capacity will double from 84 appointments to 168, she said.
The percentage of COVID-positive test results in the St. Luke’s Health System has been steadily increasing over the last week, data shows.
People can schedule a testing appointment at the hospital south of Ketchum through the St. Luke’s myChart online portal or by calling 208-381-9500. Prudek said people should not go to the Emergency Department or any of the St. Luke’s clinics to get tested but should go to the Emergency Department if they need immediate medical attention.
The St. Luke’s Wood River testing center will be closed on Saturday, Jan. 1.