Friday, December 02, 2022

PHD: No omicron here

Staff Writer | December 29, 2021 1:08 AM

There are still no identified cases of the omicron variant in the Panhandle Health District.

PHD spokeswoman Katherine Hoyer said Tuesday that three cases of the omicron variant have been identified in Idaho — two in Ada county and one in Fremont County.

“Omicron is likely in more parts of Idaho and circulating based on what’s happening in the rest of the country, but only so many samples can be sequenced in the state,” she wrote in an email to The Press.

Omicron is said to be a milder, but more transmissible variant of COVID-19 and was identified in the U.S. on Dec. 1.

It is now the dominant version of the coronavirus in the U.S., accounting for 73% of new infections, according to a recent Associated Press report.

Yet, it hasn't reached Kootenai County.

Hoyer said since the process for genomic sequencing starts with a positive PCR test result with enough of a sample left to be sequenced, it’s important people still get a PCR test, even if they have a positive rapid test.

Meantime, the state reported on its website that since May 15 there have been 20,266 COVID-19 cases of the fully vaccinated, 658 hospitalizations and 273 deaths.

That compares to 103,915 COVID-19 cases of those not fully vaccinated, 4,697 hospitalizations and 1,667 deaths.

The number of COVID-related deaths in the PHD rose to 779 — it hit 700 a month ago — with 490 of those in Kootenai County.

The virus continues to be more of a threat to older people than young.

Thirty of the people in the PHD whose deaths were attributed to the virus, 3.9%, were under the age of 50. Most COVID-related deaths in Idaho, 705, or 91%, were people over the age of 60.

In Idaho, 52% of those 5 and older are fully vaccinated.

Just over 200 million Americans, 62%, are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

Kootenai Health reported it had 36 COVID-19 inpatients on Tuesday, with 13 requiring critical care. It did not have any COVID-19 pediatric patients.

PHD’s positivity rate for COVID-19 recently dropped to 5.4%, the lowest in nearly six months, while Kootenai County’s dropped to 5.8%, well off from the 23% it reached on Oct. 2.

Health officials say the goal is 5% or less.

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