BOISE, Idaho — Idaho is experiencing a sharp increase in confirmed coronavirus cases, with 544 new cases reported in a five-day span.
That brings the state’s total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases to more than 4,000, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
Idaho Gov. Brad Little ordered a statewide stay-at-home order in late March, and those restrictions have been gradually lifted over the last several weeks. The state is currently in the fourth and final stage of Little’s reopening plan, with gatherings of more than 50 people allowed.
However, the numbers of people becoming infected have climbed as more businesses reopened and more people resumed normal activity levels. One outbreak in the Boise area was tied to young people going to downtown bars as they reopened. Health districts in the Twin Falls region and in eastern Idaho have all seen a recent increase in COVID-19 cases in people under the age of 50, Boise State Public Radio reported.
“They’re going out to the bars, they’re going out and having a good time,” state epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn said at last week’s City Club of Boise forum. “They don’t perceive themselves at risk of severe disease.”
Little has repeatedly said that he would consider renewing some restrictions if cases spike in order to prevent Idaho’s health care system from becoming overwhelmed. But last week he suggested any such decisions could be made on a regional, rather than statewide, basis.
The White House has identified “14-day downward trajectories” in both confirmed cases and test positivity rates as key criteria for reopening. Idaho met those recommendations when the reopening process began. The recent spike, however, means the state would not qualify for reopening under the federal guidance. The 14-day trend in new cases has more than doubled, climbing from just under 43 to nearly 87 new cases a day, according to numbers from The COVID Tracking Project. Idaho’s 14-day trend in the testing positivity rate has also increased from about 3% to 6%.
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