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Big leap in local COVID-19 shelters; virus that spreads fastest in eastern Idaho

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IDAHO WATERFALLS – The Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center has seen a notable increase in the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations recently, and national data shows that the Rexburg area is experiencing one of the largest outbreaks in the country.

Over a 24-hour period between Thursday and Friday, the number of COVID-19 patients went from 19 to 31, according to hospital data collected by EastIdahoNews.com. Now, four days later, that number has remained high with 29 patients currently being treated for the novel coronavirus. Fortunately, only six COVID-19 patients are in intensive care at the EIRMC.

Idaho Falls Community Hospital, Rexburg’s Madison Memorial Hospital, and Blackfoot̵

7;s Bingham Memorial Hospital have also seen increases. In total, the largest hospitals in the region (excluding Portneuf Medical Center in Pocatello) have gone from 35 to 53 hospitalizations. Hospital administrators say COVID-19 is straining the resources of area hospitals.

The leap is the most recent indicator of how fast COVID-19 is spreading in eastern Idaho.

However, it is not the only indicator.

The New York Times reported on Monday that the Rexburg metropolitan area currently has the second largest COVID-19 outbreak in the entire country. This means that in the past two weeks they have seen the largest number of new cases compared to their population. In this case 742 new cases for a population of 53,006.

Local data supports it. East Idaho Public Health shows that Madison County now regularly outstrips Bonneville County in the number of new cases. Madison currently has 266 active cases compared to 235 active cases in Bonneville. Last week, due to the growing number of cases, Brigham Young University-Idaho warned it may need to shut down again to slow the spread of the virus. A positive side to Madison is that their hospitalization rate is low, due to the majority of active cases among young college-age adults.

Another indicator of continued prevalence is the mortality rate, which continues to rise, albeit at a much slower rate. Two new deaths from COVID-19 were reported on Tuesday: one in Caribou County and one in Bonneville County. This brings the total death toll in eastern Idaho to 49. With one exception, all deaths in eastern Idaho were of individuals over the age of 50. COVID-19 has an extremely high recovery rate, and most people recover from the virus at home with no problems. However, the elderly and the immunocompromised are more susceptible to contracting the virus, experience more severe symptoms, and die from the virus.

There were 492 deaths across the state.

The best news continues to be the COVID-19 recovery rate. A total of 7,914 people have recovered from the virus in eastern Idaho, and about 23,288 have recovered statewide.

For a closer look at the numbers visit EastIdahoNews.com’s COVID-19 page.

EIPH meets regularly on COVID-19. These meetings include updates from health officials, hospitals and local leaders. Watch the last fight here.

EIPH also has a COVID-19 call center to answer questions. Call (208) 522-0310 or toll free 855-533-3160. The call center is open from Monday to Friday from 8:00 to 17:00. Additionally, questions can be sent via email to COVIDQuestions@eiph.idaho.gov or via our Facebook page at @ EIPH.Idaho.

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