POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - It appears social distancing measures and mask mandates could be reducing Idaho's rate of COVID-19 transmission.
In the course of 5 weeks, the percentage of Idahoans tests coming up positive for the coronavirus has dropped about 6 percent.
Public health officials expected the number of positive cases to rise as tests become more available and protective measures waned.
“As the number of people who are able to get tested went up, we would expect to see more positive cases because the more you test the more you find,” said Maggie Mann, the director of the Southeastern Idaho Public Health office.
Idaho's rate of positive tests peaked at 15% in the week of July 12-18 and has been dropping ever since, according to data from the Department of Health and Welfare.
By the week of Aug. 9-15 (most recent data available), the positive rate dropped to 9%.
“So right now, it’s close to double what we would hope it to be, but it’s definitely come down from the high in July,” Mann said.
Ideally, Idaho would be consistently at a 5% positivity rate or less, Mann said. But, still, the dropping percentage rate is encouraging.
“That (means) hopefully the measures we’ve put into place--like staying home if you’re sick, wearing those cloth face coverings, practicing physical distancing, washing our hands and covering our coughs and sneezes--that those measures are starting to be effective in limiting the spread,” Mann said.
In Southeast Idaho, the number of active cases have also been decreasing in every county except Power County.
“And a couple other counties, like Bingham County is a little higher than we’d like to see, too, but we have seen that active case number start to come down as well,” Mann said.
School in Pocatello and Chubbuck began on Monday, and Idaho State University is in their second week of classes. That could have an affect on the number of active cases in the area.
Mann said it's important for people to keep practicing physical distancing, frequent hand washing and wearing a face covering to keep schools in-person.