Ada County a ‘rapid riser’ for COVID, hitting highest level of COVID impact Thursday

Neighboring counties also classified as ‘rapid riser’ and ‘high community level’ for COVID

By: - June 16, 2022 4:45 pm
Members of the Central District Health board discuss mask guidance at a meeting in May 2022

Members of the Central District Health board in May discussed whether the public health agency that covers Ada, Boise, Elmore and Valley counties should issue guidance on masks and vaccines. The board ultimately voted to table the vaccine question and to defer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on mask guidance. (Screenshot from YouTube broadcast)

Ada County spent just one week at the “moderate” community level before hitting the federal threshold for the highest level of COVID-19 concern on Thursday.

Ada County

New cases per 100K: 225.1
New COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100K: 10.8
% staffed hospital beds taken by COVID-19 patients: 5.1%

Elmore County

New cases per 100K: 258.1
New COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100K: 10.8
% staffed hospital beds taken by COVID-19 patients: 5.1%

Valley County

New cases per 100K: 237
New COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100K: 10.8
% staffed hospital beds taken by COVID-19 patients: 5.1%

Lewis County

New cases per 100K: 234.5
New COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100K: 16.9
% staffed hospital beds taken by COVID-19 patients: 4.2%

Note: Ada, Elmore and Valley counties share a hospital service area.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uses one set of data to determine how much the coronavirus is spreading in a community — and another set to determine how much that spread is causing severe disease and threatening access to health care.

Ada County and most of the rest of Idaho have been locked at high transmission rates for weeks. But even with rising cases and more COVID-19 tests coming back positive, few people were in the hospital with the virus.

That changed this week.

Ada, Elmore, Valley and Lewis counties are now in the “high” community level. Those counties this week had more than 200 new cases and more than 10 new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 residents in their hospital service areas.

The first three of those counties are in the Central District Health region.

The public health department’s public information officer, Rachel Garceau, said that CDH wants “to remind community members that, especially going into a holiday weekend, it is prudent to consider the level of risk they might be taking in the community.”

Outdoors gatherings are generally safer than indoor gatherings, when it comes to the spread of respiratory viruses.

“We encourage the use of at-home testing to screen yourself before you participate in community activities and gatherings,” Heidi Hopkins, communicable disease control program manager at CDH, said in an emailed statement. “We would also remind people that the COVID-19 vaccine is readily available for anyone age 5 and older, and community members are encouraged to seek testing and early treatment if they present with COVID symptoms.”

Ada and Canyon counties also are among the areas where coronavirus is spreading most aggressively. They were classified as “rapid riser counties” by the CDC in its daily report for Thursday.

Idaho hospitals this week have reported more than 100 people hospitalized with COVID-19, with more than 20 people newly admitted to the hospital on some days.

Still, the health care situation is far less tenuous than it was last fall, when the delta variant burned through Idaho’s under-vaccinated population and pushed hospitals beyond their limits.

About 5% of Idaho’s hospital patients have COVID-19 this week, and only about 2% to 3% of ICU patients have COVID-19 — compared with prior peaks of more than 30% of all hospitalizations and more than 60% of ICU patients.

Last fall and winter, Idaho also eclipsed 100 new admissions per day, with many days when Idaho reported 600 to 800 total coronavirus hospitalizations.

Here are the CDC’s recommendations for people who live in areas with a high community level:

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Audrey Dutton
Audrey Dutton

Audrey Dutton was a senior investigative reporter with the Idaho Capital Sun after 10 years at the Idaho Statesman. Her favorite topics to cover included health care, business, consumer protection issues and white collar crime. Before coming home to Idaho, Dutton worked as a journalist in Minnesota, New York, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Dutton's work has earned dozens of state, regional and national awards for investigative reporting, health care and business reporting, data visualization and more.