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51 new COVID cases in Kootenai County

by CRAIG NORTHRUP
Staff Writer | February 25, 2021 1:00 AM

While new COVID-19 cases in Kootenai County have steadfastly trended down since the apex of the outbreak in early December, Tuesday’s low count of 11 new cases was trumped Wednesday with 51 new cases countywide, according to Panhandle Health District.

While the 51 new cases in Kootenai County are up from Tuesday’s 11, the new case count represents a dramatic decrease compared to two months ago. The county’s case counts have mimicked the nationwide decline since the height of the pandemic, which have been attributed to increased awareness of the disease, following strict health protocols and limiting travel.

Katherine Hoyer, public information officer for Panhandle Health, said local officials have been encouraged by the trend.

“We are cautiously optimistic watching the case rates, positivity rates, and hospitalizations decrease these past few weeks,” Hoyer said.

Hoyer said Kootenai County residents need to remain vigilant to keep new infections low. That warning comes Wednesday evening, less than five hours after the first case of an Idaho resident who tested positive for the UK variant of the disease was confirmed in Ada County.

“There is only a small portion of the population that has been fully vaccinated, so taking the precautions is highly important now that parts of the state are beginning to detect the virus variants in Idaho,” Hoyer said. “Taking the precautions will help keep everyone safe from potentially more severe variants.”

Hospitalizations have also steadfastly declined over the months. Kootenai Health reported Wednesday 25 in-patients were admitted with COVID-19, eight of whom are receiving critical care. That number stands in stark contrast to Dec. 23, when 93 in-patients — the hospital’s high-water mark so far during the pandemic.

A total of 174 Kootenai County residents have died from COVID-19, according to Panhandle Health.

Hoyer stressed the public should keep emphasizing the protocols the health district, the CDC and public health officials have almost universally recommended since the pandemic began more than a year ago.

“We would encourage everyone to continue the same standard precautions as our best defense: mask wearing, physical distancing, good hand hygiene, getting tested if you're sick or exposed, and staying home if you're not feeling well,” Hoyer said.