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COVID positivity rates continue to rise

by CRAIG NORTHRUP
Staff Writer | June 2, 2021 1:00 AM

Panhandle Health’s COVID-19 report Tuesday afternoon painted a picture of caution and concern, as North Idaho’s positivity rate breached past 8 percent over the weekend.

Idaho’s five northernmost counties saw their positivity rates — the number of total COVID-19 tests divided by the number of positive tests — reach 8.4 percent. Over the three-day holiday weekend, the health district reported 77 new cases.

“We would like to see our positivity rates come down in the majority of our counties,” public information officer Katherine Hoyer told The Press Tuesday afternoon. “Compared to other districts in the state, we are headed in the opposite direction.”

North Idaho’s 8.4 percent is the highest in the state this week.

The report shows the highest positivity rate in the region since Feb. 6, when the region and the nation were still recovering from the worst COVID-19 spike since the pandemic began.

Overall, Idaho’s positivity rate is at 5 percent, lower than North Idaho but up from 4.4 percent just a week before. Hoyer attributed the climb to one unignorable fact.

“Our vaccination rate is considerably lower than anywhere else [in Idaho],” she said.

While 63.7 percent of North Idaho’s elderly population has been fully vaccinated, only 23.7 percent of eligible North Idahoans age 12 to 64 have been fully vaccinated, well below the state average of 32.1 percent.

Of the 22 COVID-19 in-patients hospitalized in Kootenai Health, half are in critical care.