Shoshone County joins Kootenai, Boundary Counties in ‘red’ risk category

1 Coronavirus

KOOTENI CO., Idaho — The Panhandle Health District moved Shoshone County into the “red” risk category on Thursday and has opted to keep Kootenai and Boundary Counties in that category for another week.

The decision to place these counties in the substantial risk zone come as North Idaho grapples with an influx of COVID-19 cases. Health officials decide risk categories based on a handful of factors, including positivity rates, hospitalizations and seven-day incidence rate (IR).

As of Thursday, Kootenai Health has 41 inpatients with COVID-19 and 13 of those people are in critical care. In Spokane, there are 64 people hospitalized with the virus and 19 are in critical care.

Kootenai Health has been operating at over 90 percent capacity for two weeks and is struggling with medical staff out due to illness, as well as inability to fill open positions for traveling nurses.

IRs are determined by the number of new cases, per day, per county. Health officials look at a seven-day rate to determine a trend instead of a dip or spike due to one day’s worth of cases.

According to the PHD, each county’s risk category is as follows:

  • Kootenai – RED (7-day IR = 49.8)
  • Shoshone – RED (7-day IR = 39.9)
  • Boundary – RED (7-day IR = 57.2)
  • Bonner – ORANGE (7-day IR = 14.1)
  • Benewah – ORANGE (7-day IR = 15.4)

The PHD is asking the public to continue following COVID-19 protocols (i.e. hand-washing, wearing a mask, social distancing), as they are the only way to assist in slowing the spread of the virus at this point in time.

“All we have are these non-pharmaceutical preventive behaviors to keep ourselves and others safe,” said Katherine Hoyer, Public Information Office at Panhandle Health District. “There is not a vaccine yet for COVID-19 and treatment is limited, so let’s do what we can to keep our businesses open, children in school, and our healthcare facilities functioning.”

Earlier this week, the Coeur d’Alene City Council approved a mask mandate in an effort to reduce transmission of the virus and Governor Brad Little moved the state back to Stage 3.

RELATED: Gov. Little moves Idaho back to Stage 3 of reopening plan as cases, hospitalization rates rise

READ: Coeur d’Alene City Council approves mask mandate