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Coronavirus In Idaho: Resources & News From Aug. 2-8


Boise State Public Radio is here to keep you current on the news surrounding COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. This blog contains information from Aug. 1-8 on closures, openings, cancellations & news regarding the coronavirus in Idaho.

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Daily Cases Back Above 500 Saturday, Six More Deaths

 August 8 - 5:15 p.m.

Idaho health officials announced 545 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 Saturday, 207 in Ada County, 95 in Canyon County. Six more people have died, bringing the statewide death toll from the virus to 235 people since March.

St. Luke's and St. Alphonsus Hospital Systems have each released data dashboards to share COVID-19 information publically. It is some of the same information they send to state officials and the new national database operated by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Even as daily cases remain high, the state's test positivity rate continues to drop from a peak near 15% in early July. Official state data from the week beginning August 2 should be released Sunday, but hospital data from Idaho's largest health providers showed test positivity rates the last week near 9%.

State officials have confirmed 22,953 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic reached Idaho, and list another 1,542 probable cases.

Idaho Coronavirus Case Numbers Decline, But Remain Elevated

August 7 - 5:01 p.m.

Idaho officials are adding another 492 confirmed cases coronavirus to state totals Friday — down from yesterday.

Six additional people also died, bringing the death count to 229.


Since March 13, Idaho has recorded 22,408 confirmed cases of COVID-19.


Hospitalizations also remain elevated. After setting a record earlier this week, the numbers declined a bit to 201 people admitted to the hospital as of Wednesday. 


Despite having half as many people, Canyon County is now outpacing Ada County in both total infections and infections per capita.


The counties are served by two different public health districts. Central District Health, which covers Ada County, implemented a mandatory mask order a few weeks ago, while Southwest District Health has declined to do so, instead just recommending residents wear them.


The End Of Federal Unemployment Benefits Could Be Bad News For Idaho Economy

August 7 - 7:30 a.m.

The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program expired at the end of last month. The plan provided jobless Idahoans an additional $600 a week on top of their regular unemployment.

Eric Stuen, a University of Idaho economics professor, said the enhanced benefits would have come out to about $84 million over the course of the year. That’s about 1.4% of Idaho’s entire economy.

Read the entire story here.

Idaho Adds More Than 600 Coronavirus Cases For First Time In Three Weeks

August 6 - 5:05 p.m. 

There were 648 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases added in Idaho on Thursday, for a state total of 21,916 confirmed cases statewide. This was the third-highest daily case count over the course of the pandemic. In mid-July, Idaho saw 691 and 658 cases two days in a row. 


Six deaths were also added to the state count for a total of 223. Three of the deaths were in Canyon County, and one in each of Ada County, Bonneville County and Kootenai County. 


Canyon County also saw the highest case count of the day with 242 cases. Ada County followed with 138 confirmed cases, Kootenai had 61 cases and Bonneville recorded 51. 


Earlier in the day, Gov. Brad Little announced Idaho would stay in Stage 4 of the reopening plan for the fourth two-week period, after failing to control the spread of the virus enough to meet the necessary metrics.



Gov. Brad Little Funnels Cash To Schools While Idaho Stays In Stage 4 Of Reopening

August 6 - 1 p.m.

The third time wasn’t the charm, apparently, as Gov. Brad Little announced Thursday that Idaho will remain in Stage 4 of his reopening plan once again.

“It’s not the end of the world if we don’t get out of Stage 4, but to me, it’s the message that we’re out of Stage 4 because we’ve done the right thing,” Little said.

Read the entire story here.

Idaho High School Sports This Fall: A Balancing Act Of Heart And Health

August 6 - 8:15 a.m.

Wednesday, The Idaho High School Activities Association reaffirmed a previous decision to open the high school sports season statewide August 10. Treasure Valley Schools have decided to delay that one week, with games unlikely before September 8.

Superintendents and athletic directors from school districts in the Southern Idaho Conference (SIC) met this week and pushed the start of their practice seasons to August 17. They hope the extra week will give enough time for the number of new cases and hospitalizations in the Treasure Valley to decrease.

Read the full story here.


Pandemic Travelers Flock To Idaho For Outdoor Recreation

August 6 - 7:45 a.m.

Sun Valley businesses say the summer tourism season has been as busy as any other year, despite the pandemic.

Blaine County was once Idaho's coronavirus hotspot, but it has not seen large daily case numbers in several months. Still, the summer travel business wasn’t looking too optimistic as recently as Memorial Day weekend. But now, tourist towns like Sun Valley and Stanley are full to the brim, locals say.

Read the entire story here.


COVID-19 Pandemic Heightens Risk Of Human Trafficking In Idaho

August 6 - 7:10 a.m.

The COVID-19 pandemic spurred unprecedented spikes in unemployment, widespread housing insecurity and increased hunger.

“Traffickers will hone in on on an individual's vulnerabilities, especially by giving them false promises," said Jennifer Zielinski, Executive Director of the Idaho Anti-Trafficking Coalition.

Read the entire story here.


How Do You Keep the Music Playing? Boise Phil Goes Virtual

August 6 - 7:00 a.m.

While some of the world's premiere performing arts organizations hunker down due to the pandemic —even the New York Philharmonic canceled its entire fall season — Idaho's oldest-performing arts organization, the Boise Philharmonic, has unveiled a 2020-21 season of no less less than 27 performances.

But the season, including 85 works by nearly 70 composers, will primarily be showcased on BPO's new online platform: Digital Stage.

Read the full story here.

Idaho Sees Record Day For COVID-19 Hospitalizations

August 5 - 5:01 p.m.

Idaho reported another 401 lab-confirmed cases COVID-19, 7 deaths and a record number of hospitalizations Wednesday, as the state remains in the worst stretch of the pandemic since the first case was reported in March.

There were 242 patients hospitalized with suspected or confirmed cases on Wednesday.

An additional 72 probable new cases were reported Wednesday, bringing Idaho total confirmed and probable cases to nearly 23,000, with 217 deaths.

Despite the numbers, most businesses remain open across the state and Gov. Brad Little is encouraging schools to open for in-person instruction.

Idaho's Largest School Districts Take Different Paths To Fall Semester

August 5 - 8:30 a.m.

School Boards of Trustees for Boise and West Ada districts met Tuesday, deciding when and how to reopen schools to students this fall.

Read the full story here.


Mask Order Challenged By North Idaho Business Owners

August 5 - 7:45 a.m.

North Idaho business owners are suing public health officials over a mandatory mask order in Kootenai County passed last month.

The lawsuit was filed by two Kootenai County restaurant owners and Paul Herndon, who operates a raw milk dairy in Bonner County.

Read the entire story here.


Ada County Schools At Highest Risk For Community Spread

August 5 - 7:30 a.m.

Idaho’s school reopening framework asked local health districts to analyze community transmission levels and assign a risk category, ranging from 1 to 3.

Boise County, Elmore County and Valley County have all been placed in Category 2. Ada County’s school districts are in Category 3, which could mean extended building closures.

Read the entire story here.

Coronavirus Cases, Deaths Spike Again In Idaho

August 4 - 5:06 p.m.

After several days of relative declines in cases of coronavirus, Idaho added another 495 Tuesday, as well as 10 deaths.

The state has now recorded 20,867 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since March 13 and 210 deaths.


Five of those who died were from Canyon County. Two were from Ada County and one each from Kootenai, Owyhee and Washington counties.


Ada and Canyon counties are still the hotspots for Idaho, accounting for nearly two thirds of Tuesday’s cases.


Data show admissions to hospitals and the ICU have spiked after a one-day dip. 195 people were hospitalized as of Aug. 2, while 39 of them were in the ICU.


Idaho Reports 305 New Confirmed Cases, 3 Deaths Monday

August 3 - 5:17 p.m.

After three days straight of declining numbers in new confirmed cases of COVID-19, Idaho saw an uptick Monday with a reported 305 lab-confirmed cases. This brings the statewide total to 20,375.

Canyon County alone accounted for more than a quarter of Monday’s new confirmed cases at 84. Kootenai County had the second-highest count at 42. Ada and Twin Falls Counties logged 23 and 21 new cases respectively.

Three additional deaths were also reported Monday: two in Ada County and one in Twin Falls County. State officials recorded two of the fatalities in the 80-years-and-older age range and one in the 50-59. A total of 200 Idahoans have died from coronavirus since March.

Since Sunday, 12 COVID-19 cases have been hospitalized and three have been sent to the ICU.

Low Turnout For COVID-19 Skeptic Rally Headlined By Idaho Lieutenant Governor

August 3 - 7:30 a.m.

A rally against pandemic restrictions featuring Idaho’s lieutenant governor drew a sparse crowd of COVID-19 skeptics this weekend in Twin Falls.

The event was called Freedom Is The Cure. Of course, there is no cure or vaccine yet for COVID-19. And medical experts agree face masks are a much more effective defense against spreading the virus.

Read the entire story here.


COVID-19 Outbreak In Twin Falls Jail Brings New Urgency To Overcrowding Issue

August 3 - 7:00 a.m.

After one inmate at the Twin Falls County jail tested positive for COVID-19 early in July, the jail ordered tests for all inmates and staff. About half of the tests have come back positive, and as of late last week, 125 inmates and seven staff members are confirmed to have COVID-19.

Read the full story here.


The Urgency Of The 2020 Sun Valley Wellness Festival

August 3 - 6:45 a.m.

While countless conferences and festivals have been cancelled this year due to the pandemic, Andria Friesen says cancelling the 2020 edition of the Sun Valley Wellness Festival and Conference wasn't an option.

"For crying out loud," said Friesen, president of the festival's board of directors. "If there's ever a time for us to figure out a way to get the best and the brightest and to get the information to everyone possible, it's this year."

Read the entire story here.

Idaho Passes 20,000 Cases, New Infections Sunday Fewest Since July 2

August 2 - 5:15 p.m.

Idaho's Department of Health and Welfare Sunday posted an increase of 218 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19, pushing the state past 20,000 total cases since March. The daily total of new cases declined for the fourth straight day and was the fewest since July 2. Health officials announced no new fatalities across the state, but the state's death reporting has lagged behind local health districts in recent days. The reported number of available ICU beds at Idaho hospitals increased for the fourth consecutive day, currently 157. July 28, there were fewer than 100 ICU beds available.

Across Idaho, 20,067 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed and 1,277 cases are probable. The death toll is 197.

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