PAYETTE — The COVID-19 delta variant continues its foothold in Payette County, according to the latest executive briefing by County Emergency Manager Adam Gonzalez, on Tuesday. Following are examples of the latest data, as obtained by the newspaper.

• The overall number of confirmed cases countywide is 2,804, with a death toll of 56.

• The county’s test positivity rate has reached 26.42%, previously 22.75%. The daily incidence rate per 10,000 people is 8.65, previously 6.83.

• The county’s cumulative case fatality rate is 1.51%. 

• According to the report, all emergency departments are still taking patients and a “slight” decrease in how many patients being held in such departments has been observed. Most hospitals are operating at capacity, with ongoing staffing issues.

• Plans are in progress to accommodate surge capacity as needed, with solutions identified by the Payette County Office fo Emergency Management. The office, along with Payette County Paramedics, continue to monitor hospital capacities.

A comment request to officials at Saint Alphonsus and St. Luke’s health systems regarding these plans is pending, as of press time.

• The Payette County Jail presently has one inmate who has tested positive, and another is isolated with symptoms.

• Outbreaks continue in the county’s long-term care facilities: Payette Healthcare of Cascadia has had a total of 39 cases and four deaths, up from 36 cases and two deaths as reported Sept. 21. Edgewood Spring Creek in Fruitland now has 35 cases, up from 32 cases. Its total deaths remains at four.

In his discussion with the Payette County Board of Commissioners Tuesday, Gonzalez pointed out that local schools have had issues keeping up with demand for substitute teachers. He noted schools often have several teachers out daily.

“One thing the [Gov. Brad Little] has done is he’s allowed state employees to take PTO time; They’re giving them PTO time to go and substitute in classrooms in their local communities,” he said. “I’m working with the Idaho Office of Emergency Management to find a way, how we can figure out who’s in our area that would be willing to do that kind of thing.”

Gonzalez noted that, to a lesser extent, the need for substitute bus drivers is also a concern to the state.

“My brother-in-law is a transportation director for a school in Portland; he’s driving now,” noted Commissioner Marc Shigeta.

“A couple of superintendents have said some of the building administrators have had to take over classrooms, or multiple classrooms,” said Gonzalez. “It’s a strenuous situation.”

When Gonzalez asked commissioners how frequently they would like future updates, commissioners Reece Hrizuk and Georgia Hanigan asked him to provide weekly updates until further notice.

“Hopefully here in the next week or two, we’ll get some information on the booster shots; I’ve already had some preliminary discussions on how to roll that out,” he added.

The Pfizer vaccine is the only one approved for booster doses, available to susceptible persons, such as those age 65 or older, teachers, and 8 months after initial vaccination, according to Gonzalez.

Crisis standards of care remain in effect statewide in Idaho, as implemented by the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare on Sept. 16. The state remains in stage four of Gov. Brad Little’s Stay Healthy order.

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