BOISE, Idaho — According to data from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, COVID-19 cases have been on the rise, once again, since early April.
"We are up at levels consistent with what we call community spread,” said Dr. David Pate, former CEO of St. Luke’s Health System.
The state reported 345 positive cases from its latest data on June 2. Pate believes, that number is much higher.
"Those are undercounted because so many people are doing home tests which don’t get reported or at this point, people are thinking 'it is no big deal even if I have it' and so they are just not even testing, so we know that whatever we see in the state numbers reported, it’s a minimum," Pate said.
According to Pate, the statewide goal is to have positivity rates below five percent. As of June 5th, the statewide positivity rate is nine percent. Pate said hospitalizations are also climbing.
“Even the hospitalizations are up, where we usually see more of lag,” he said. “So every indicator is telling us that we are beginning a new surge."
As of June 5th, the state reported 94 Idahoans hospitalized with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID. Pate said he cannot predict the magnitude of the next surge but knows that it has the potential to increase the number of people battling long covid. Long haul symptoms are something he said is becoming more common.
"Persistent loss of smell, loss of taste, they just don't have the energy to get up and shower, or it takes all of their energy to climb upstairs to the second floor, impaired memory, impaired ability to concentrate."
Pate says long-haul symptoms can affect anywhere from 7% to 30% of people who get infected, even those who may have a mild case initially.
"Even though it appears that this omicron was milder, that doesn't mean that the future ones will, and in fact, there are reasons to be more concerned about Ba 4 and Ba 5 that we will be dealing with later this year, that they could cause more severe disease again," Pate said.
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