BOISE, Idaho — Central District Board of Health (CDH) voted unanimously Friday to lift public health orders in both Ada and Valley counties related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The orders have been replaced with advisories that function as "strong recommendations" for residents to continue wearing a mask, practice social distancing, and avoid large gatherings to help prevent new infections of the virus.
Board members pointed to falling case counts and hospitalizations, saying they were more comfortable relaxing orders as coronavirus cases continued to trend downward across the state.
“They've dropped, I would say, considerably compared to where we were with our November peak,” CDH Director Russ Duke said. “Where we were having over 3,000 cases a week.”
Now the health district is seeing anywhere from 600 to 700 cases a week, according to Duke. All counties in the region are seeing this downward trend of cases and hospitalizations.
All counties under CDH jurisdiction, Ada, Boise, Elmore and Valley, have seen improved COVID-19 numbers over the last several weeks, according to a presentation by communicable disease control manager Kimberly Link.
In Ada County, 599 cases were reported during the week ending Feb. 14, bringing the county close to falling under the 100 per 100,000 per week benchmark.
Both Boise and Elmore Counties are under that benchmark and have been for more than a month. Ada and Valley counties are expected to be under the benchmark once the latest data is released Monday.
The positivity rate among the four CDH counties is just below 5%, at 4.7%. This is the first time in five months the counties' positivity rates have been below 5%, with a peak in late November at 16%.
The statewide positivity rate is currently 5.8%, according to the Idaho Dept. of Health and Welfare COVID-19 data dashboard. The peak of 19.1% occurred in mid-November.
“The significance of that five percent mark is once we’re below that we can say the amount of testing going on in our community is adequate to fully understand the level of illness going on,” Link said.
Hospitalizations are also trending downward statewide. In Ada County, 20-30 residents are currently in the hospital due to COVID-19. Both in-patient and ICU beds have returned to rates similar to those before the dramatic spike in November and December.
Statewide, there are currently 142 Idahoans in the hospital, 37 of which are in the ICU. This is the lowest hospitalization rate since September and the lowest rate of ICU admittance since late summer.
“The numbers of Ada County Residents in ICU are in low single digits and that is really what we were seeing before our number of cases picked up in the fall,” Link said.
For the latest Idaho COVID-19 data, visit our interactive map and timeline.
At KTVB, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: www.ktvb.com/coronavirus.
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