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Fall Wave: Southeast, east Idaho’s Covid-19 cases on the rise

Southeastern Idaho Public Health
KIFI/KIDK
Southeastern Idaho Public Health

POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Idaho is in it's largest coronavirus spike since the pandemic started, leading Governor Brad Little to move the state back to stage three.

Over the past two weeks, new cases have increased by 46.5%, with new statewide cases topping 1,000 on three different days. As more people catch the virus, more people are getting really sick.

“I believe Idaho right now is 6th in the country for new cases per capita, and that’s certainly where we don’t want to be. It’s definitely starting to have an impact statewide on the health care delivery system and health care capacity,” said Maggie Mann, the director for Southeastern Idaho Public Health.

Hospitalizations across the state have more than doubled since mid-September. On Sept. 24, 128 people were in the hospital with Covid-19. As of Oct. 23, 272 Idahoans are currently hospitalized, the most since the pandemic reached the state.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare receives daily reports from area hospitals to calculate how many people are in the hospital with the virus. This chart shows the third and largest wave of hospitalizations in the state.

In the Southeastern Idaho Public Health District, 43 people are hospitalized with the virus.

The Portneuf Medical Center said they've seen a big rise in patients: from an average of 8 patients a day a the end of August, to now an average of 25 patients a day.

While PMC is not the only hospital in the district, small hospitals can't take on too many Covid patients.

“If we overload our hospitals, we end up sending them to Portneuf, Bingham, or Idaho Falls,” said Vaughn Rasmussen, the Vice Chair of SIPH's Board of Health.

If hospitals in the area reach capacity, Governor Little said sending patients to Utah is not an option, as they're already full.

"The localized approach is still my desired approach in protecting lives," Little said during his Monday press conference.

Governor Little is calling on local officials, like county commissioners and boards of health, to make more effort in the fight against the coronavirus.

"In some parts of the state, there simply has been insufficient efforts to protect lives," Little said.

Rasmussen, who represents Bear Lake County of the Board of Health, said he hopes to see more of a collaborative effort from board members to protect the public.

“I just think we need to unite down here and look at the whole region instead of each county individually. I think we’re getting better at that, and I think you’ll continue to see that get better and better,” Rasmussen said.

The SIPH Board of Health meets Thursday for their two-week check-in, where they'll decide to move counties to higher or lower risk categories.

Coronavirus Coverage / Idaho / Local News / Pocatello / Top Stories / Videos
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Emma Iannacone

Emma is a reporter for Local News 8 and KIDK Eyewitness News 3.

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