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Idaho Wastewater Data Shows ‘Concerning’ COVID-19 Indicators

Boise’s wastewater testing dashboard — which tracks COVID-19 amounts in sewage coming from Boise, Garden City and Eagle — has shown a doubling since Feb. 22, according to CDH public information technician Alina Gilmore.

by Nicole Foy, The Idaho Statesman / March 12, 2021
AP
(TNS) - Mar. 12—Ada County added 96 coronavirus cases Thursday, a day after the city of Boise's wastewater testing update indicated "concerning" increases of virus detection. But Central District Health officials say it's much too soon to tell whether the Boise area could see another big surge before more of the public gets vaccinated.
 
Boise's wastewater testing dashboard — which tracks the amount of COVID-19 present in sewage coming from Boise, Garden City and Eagle — has shown a doubling since Feb. 22, according to CDH public information technician Alina Gilmore. As large percentages of patients with confirmed infections can shed their virus in their feces, wastewater testing systems like Boise's have been used to track and even forecast COVID-19 spread in communities during the pandemic.
 
"The time frame and trend are concerning," Gilmore said. "It's been about two and a half weeks since our Public Health Order was lifted, and the increase of positive lab reports coming in could certainly be the result of people's actions and not following safety recommendations outlined in CDH's public health advisory in effect for all four counties."
 
CDH covers Ada County, as well as Elmore, Valley and Boise. The city of Boise still has a mask mandate in place, but the rest of Ada County does not.
 
Gilmore said it's too soon to tell whether the wastewater data indicates an upward trend or an anomaly. Central District Health identified the U.K. variant strain through clinical testing in a second Ada County resident this week. Gilmore also said lower levels of virus circulating in the community can make detecting variants in wastewater more challenging.
 
"This is just one piece of the picture and it doesn't capture all the information that encompasses what is going on in our counties," Gilmore said.
 
Idaho's case counts have been decreasing for several weeks, and its positivity rate on tests is still below the key 5% level.
 
Health and Welfare reported 364 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases on Thursday, with the bulk of those in Ada and Bonneville counties. No counties reported triple-digit case increases, although those two came close. In addition to Ada County's 96 (47,615 total), Bonneville County, home to Idaho Falls, reported 90 new cases (12,882 total).
 
Canyon County reported just 17 new cases (24,975 total). Kootenai County in North Idaho reported 26 new cases (16,898 total) and Bannock County in southeastern Idaho reported 25 (8,059 total).
 
Other counties reporting new confirmed and probable cases Thursday included: Bear Lake (1 new, 362 total), Benewah (4 new, 636 total), Bingham (23 new, 4,404 total), Blaine (2 new, 2,201 total), Boise (1 new, 315 total), Bonner (6 new, 3,033 total), Cassia (2 new, 2,879 total), Clearwater (1 new, 1,010 total), Elmore (2 new, 1,645 total), Franklin (6 new, 1,094 total), Fremont (2 new, 1,042 total), Idaho (1 new, 1,166 total), Jefferson (11 new, 2,570 total), Jerome (1 new, 2,516 total), Latah (10 new, 2,843 total), Madison (15 new, 6,527 total), Minidoka (2 new, 2,296 total), Nez Perce (6 new, 3,396 total), Payette (4 new, 2,397 total), Power (2 new, 634 total), Shoshone (2 new, 1,018 total), Teton (4 new, 1,110 total), Valley (1 new, 807 total), Washington (1 new, 1,179 total).
 
A total of 174,610 Idahoans have tested positive for coronavirus since the pandemic began last March.
 
Idaho's positivity rate for the week of Feb. 28 through March 6 was just 4.6%, the third straight week of a rate below 5%, according to state data updated Thursday.
 
The state also reported five more COVID-19-related deaths Thursday, with one each reported in Ada (441 total), Benewah (8 total), Bonneville (151 total), Kootenai (191 total) and Twin Falls (124 total) counties. A total of 1,906 people have died because of COVID-19 in Idaho.
 
Payette County hosting mass vaccination clinics
 
The Payette County Office of Emergency Management and a Fruitland pharmacy called the The Prescription Pad are planning several large vaccination clinics for the county as soon as more vaccines are available.
 
The first clinic is scheduled for Saturday, March 20, and is by appointment only. In order to set appointments, names will be pulled from the state of Idaho's vaccine waitlist and the Payette County Vaccine Waitlist that is now available online.
 
Residents of Payette County can register by visiting https://payettecounty.org/pcemo. Those who are not able to register online may call 208-812-0727 to be on the Payette County Vaccine Waitlist.
 
When vaccines or appointments become available, someone will contact those on the list based on eligibility that is established by the state. For more information about who may be vaccinated, visit https://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/covid-19-vaccination.
 
" Payette County is committed to coordinating the vaccine distribution to our community in an effort to help protect all of our citizens," read a Thursday press release. "We are also grateful for the many community partners that have stepped up to help provide various services in our area."
 
DAILY DETAILS
 
Vaccine doses administered in Idaho: 485,478, according to Health and Welfare. Of those, 181,267 people have been fully vaccinated.
 
Overall hospitalizations: Health and Welfare reports that there have been 7,276 hospitalizations of people with COVID-19, 1,256 admissions to the ICU and 9,755 health care workers infected. Hospital and health care numbers are based on cases with completed investigations into contacts, not the full number of positives.
 
St. Luke's Health System: As of March 10, the health system was reporting 17 patients in its hospitals with confirmed COVID-19 out of 476 patients overall. The health system reported a 14-day coronavirus test positivity rate of 4%.
 
Saint Alphonsus Health System: As of March 10, the health system was reporting 32 patients in its hospitals with confirmed COVID-19 out of 348 patients overall. The health system reported a 14-day coronavirus test positivity rate of 8.4%.
 
Boise School District: Reported confirmed cases since March 2: Borah High (3), Capital High (1), Garfield Elementary (3), Hillside Jr. High (1), Horizon Elementary (1), Maple Grove Elementary (1), Morley Nelson Elementary (1), North Jr. High (1), Riverglen Jr. High (1), Trail Wind Elementary (1), West Jr. High (2).
 
West Ada School District: Reported confirmed cases for Feb. 24-March 9: Centennial High (2), Eagle High (6), Mountain View High (2), Renaissance High (1), Rocky Mountain High (4), Eagle Middle (2), Heritage Middle (2), Lake Hazel Middle (2), Sawtooth Middle (1), Star Middle (1), Barbara Morgan STEM Academy (1), Christine Donnell School of the Arts (2), Discovery Elementary (1), Galileo STEM Elementary (1), Hillsdale Elementary (3), Joplin Elementary (1), Mary McPherson Elementary (1), Pepper Ridge Elementary (1), Peregrine Elementary (1), River Valley Elementary (1).
 
Total COVID-19 cases by county (confirmed + probable): Ada 47,615, Adams 332, Bannock 8,059, Bear Lake 362, Benewah 636, Bingham 4,404, Blaine 2,201, Boise 315, Bonner 3,033, Bonneville 12,882, Boundary 824, Butte 200, Camas 70, Canyon 24,975, Caribou 629, Cassia 2,879, Clark 54, Clearwater 1,010, Custer 235, Elmore 1,645, Franklin 1,094, Fremont 1,042, Gem 1,702, Gooding 1,273, Idaho 1,166, Jefferson 2,570, Jerome 2,516, Kootenai 16,898, Latah 2,843, Lemhi 506, Lewis 381, Lincoln 488, Madison 6,527, Minidoka 2,296, Nez Perce 3,396, Oneida 332, Owyhee 1,021, Payette 2,397, Power 634, Shoshone 1,018, Teton 1,110, Twin Falls 9,054, Valley 807, Washington 1,179.
 
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