Idaho continues to struggle with COVID-19 surge, says majority of hospitalizations and deaths are unvaccinated

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho health experts are reporting more record-breaking numbers as COVID-19 pushes hospitals beyond capacity. As of Sept. 11, 98 people are fighting for their lives on a ventilator in Idaho. That’s the most since June 2020.

Teenagers are also testing positive at an alarming rate. According to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, nearly 450 teens between 13 and 17-years-old, got COVID-19 the week of Sept. 11.

This is the highest weekly average since the beginning of the year. The incidence rate among the same age group is 485 cases per 100,000 people.

In terms of deaths, more younger people are dying this year than last year. The IDHW reports in 2020 from mid-April to the second week of September, out of everyone who tested positive,  only 3.4-percent of people from 18-49-years-old died of COVID-19. Vaccines were not available in 2020.

In the same age group for the same time this year, 7.2-percent died from COVID-19.

The number grows for people from 50 to 79-years-old. It’s almost a 17-percent difference between 2021 and 2020.

A majority of people dying in Idaho of COVID-19 are not fully vaccinated, IDHW said. Out of the 359 deaths between May 15 through Sept. 11, 316 were not fully vaccinated, which is 88-percent.

Out of the 1,847 people hospitalized during the same timeframe, 1,683 were also not fully vaccinated, which equals out to 91.1-percent.

IDHW’s Director, Dave Jeppesen, continues to encourage vaccinations as Idaho has one of the lowest rates in the country.

“There’s definitely a group of folks that that’s a decision for a variety of reasons that they’re not ever going to consider,” he said. “But there’s also a group of folks out there who are not opposed to being vaccinated, but have questions.”

Only 45-percent of people within the five North Idaho counties have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The national average is nearly 74-percent.

During a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Jeppesen was asked if IDHW has talked to Gov. Brad Little about moving back phases or restricting gatherings. The director did not answer the question directly. He said they continue to look at all the options on the table and the best actions are done at the local level.

Some changes are coming to other parts of Idaho. According to ABC-affiliate KIVI, Boise’s mayor has ordered new COVID-19 mitigation measures.

Starting Friday, indoor events with less than 250 people will require masks. If you’re outside with the same amount of people, masks are mandatory if people cannot be socially distant from others.

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