BOISE, Idaho — In the early days of March and April, Idaho witnessed its first spike in COVID-19 cases. That spike led to a statewide stay at home order and closure of most non-essential businesses.
When summer began, cases were beginning to drop until July and August, when the state saw another spike.
Now, for a third time, Idaho is back on the rise.
"I think we are a week into our third spike that is going to be bigger than either of the ones before," former CEO of St. Luke's and Idaho coronavirus task force member Dr. David Pate said.
Several factors are responsible for the recent spike in cases.
"Every week we are opening up another school and we are putting more kids in classrooms," Pate said. "In addition, we have college campuses back open and we have resumed sports. In addition, because those numbers are coming down, you will remember our discussion, 'Okay maybe we should open bars,' and so now you add that on."
Hospitalization rates tend to lag but are still high compared to the early stages of the pandemic, according to Pate.
"The number of people in the hospital is a little bit more than twice what we had back in March and April," he said. "What is really concerning is the number of people we have in intensive care units are almost two and a half times that amount."
Pate anticipates COVID-19 cases to reach the highest rates since the pandemic began in the coming weeks.
"Next month probably, certainly by November, we are going to have cold and flu season to add to that, which is going to make things worse," he said. "Also, as it gets cooler, more and more activities will move indoors and you remember us always saying, anything you do is safer outdoors than it is indoors."
The best advice is to keep your distance from others, according to Pate.
Facts not fear: More on coronavirus
See our latest updates in our YouTube playlist: