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COVID-19 patients rising

by BILL BULEY
Staff Writer | July 15, 2021 1:07 AM

COEUR d'ALENE — The number of COVID-19 inpatients at Kootenai Health nearly doubled in less than a week.

Wednesday, the hospital reported it had 24 coronavirus patients, with nine of those requiring critical care. Saturday, it had 14 coronavirus patients, with six in critical care.

The latest patients ranged in age from 30 to 80, according to a hospital spokesperson.

Kootenai Health was prepared for such an increase.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic Kootenai has been managing resources to ensure we have staffing available to care for all of our patients,” the statement from KH said.

While national cases are rising, they remain low in North Idaho.

In the U.S., newly confirmed infections per day have doubled over the past two weeks to an average of about 24,000, according to the Associated Press. Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the U.S., reported its fifth straight day Tuesday of more than 1,000 new cases.

The Panhandle Health District reported 31 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, with 24 in Kootenai County.

PHD’s most recent COVID-19 positivity rate was 5.1%, while Kootenai County was 5.3%. Both were around 9% a month ago.

Katherine Hoyer, PHD spokeswoman, wrote, “Although we have seen a decline in positivity rates and a decrease in daily case counts from where we were just months ago, COVID-19 is still here and continues to circulate, including the virus variants."

In the PHD, 37% of those 12 years and older, 78,299, are fully vaccinated.

“It’s concerning to see and hear from others that the vast majority of people are unmasked with no physical distancing when out in public. That doesn’t add up when we have such a low vaccination rate,” Hoyer wrote.

PHD continues to encourage residents to get vaccinated.

“It’s been over a year since the vaccines have come out and there have been no adverse long-term side effects for anyone who has taken it,” Hoyer wrote. “You’ve waited long enough to ensure their safety and effectiveness. Once you’re ready, the vaccine will be waiting for you at Panhandle Health District, your local pharmacy or any other enrolled provider you wish to receive it from.”

She said the longer people wait to receive the vaccine, “the greater opportunity we are allowing the virus to mutate into additional, and potentially more deadly, variants that could deem the current vaccine useless or less effective.”

If people don’t want to get a vaccine, Hoyer said masking and physical distancing should still be practiced when out in public.

“There are people who are unable to receive the vaccine, including children under the age of 12, so if you are not fully vaccinated we still need to protect those who are not yet able to receive the vaccine," she wrote.

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