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COVID-19 positivity rates reach highest yet

Hagadone News Network | January 14, 2022 1:00 AM

Positivity rates for COVID-19 in North Idaho have reached their highest since the pandemic began two years ago. Health officials are blaming the surge primarily on the omicron variant.

Kootenai County’s positivity rate shot up to 29% based on 2,981 PCR tests for the week ending Jan. 8. Three weeks ago it was 5.4%. The previous high was 27.1% on Jan. 2, 2021.

In Bonner County, the positivity rate has shot up to 24.9%, up from 5.3% in mid-December. Boundary County's positivity rate is at 14.8%, Shoshone County's is 29.2% and Benewah County's is 14.1%

The Panhandle Health District’s positivity rate for the coronavirus climbed to 27.5% based on 4,096 PCR tests. It was 5.2% three weeks ago.

The state’s positivity rate for the coronavirus shot up to 25.7%, based on 38,227 PCR tests. It was 5.5% three weeks ago. The state’s previous high was 19.1% on Nov. 21, 2020.

Kootenai Health has seen a slight increase of COVID-19 hospitalizations since the holidays.

It reported it had 63 COVID-19 inpatients on Thursday. Two weeks ago, it had 36 inpatients.

Its drive-through testing site is also experiencing a high volume of community members seeking a COVID-19 test. More than one-third are testing positive for COVID-19, according to a statement from Kootenai Health.

“Based on data from PHD and the CDC, we know the majority of the cases in our region are omicron,” said Dr. Karen Cabell, chief physician executive. “Kootenai Health is working to meet the demand of COVID-19 patients, and all patients that seek care at our hospital.”

According to the state’s website, one case of omicron has been identified in Shoshone County, which is the first in the PHD.

But officials say most COVID-19 cases in the area are due to omicron, which is said to be a mild variant, causing mostly cold-like symptoms, but one which spreads quicker.

One state health official said this week that of 250 people in Idaho identified with omicron, none were hospitalized and none died.

But officials believe that will change as test results come in and more people are tested.

“According to the CDC’s genomic surveillance site, the highly transmissible omicron variant represents over 95% of the current case count in the Northwest region,” a PHD release said.