PAYETTE COUNTY — In a news briefing Tuesday afternoon, Idaho Department of Health & Welfare director Dave Jeppesen announced the addition of a pediatric hospitalizations tracker to the state’s COVID-19 website. There are 15 children hospitalized across Idaho, according to the tracker as of press time.

“The number of COVID-19 patients continues to exceed the healthcare resources available, and we continue to see that in our hospitalization data,” said Jeppesen. “We are currently experiencing the highest number of kids in the hospital with COVID-19, since the beginning of the pandemic.”

On average, Jeppesen said there were 759 patients hospitalized in the week ending Oct. 3. He further stated that 89.1% of cases, 90.3% of hospitalizations and 88% of deaths statewide were among unvaccinated individuals.

“People who are fully vaccinated are five times less likely to catch COVID, and people who are fully vaccinated and still catch COVID are five-and-a-half times less likely to be hospitalized,” Jeppesen added.

Noteworthy is that the Centers for Disease Control advises that fully vaccinated individuals are still able to catch and spread COVID-19.

Regarding available treatment, state epidemiologist Christine Hahn says that while progress has been slow, an announcement regarding plans for a monoclonal antibody treatment center may be forthcoming later this week.

“There are treatments available in the Treasure Valley through St. Luke’s and [Saint Alphonsus], they take referrals from outside their patient population,” said Hahn.

Among challenges in establishing a treatment center in the valley include a shortage of available staffing for such a center, she added.

Statewide, there are presently more than 793,600 Idahoans fully vaccinated.

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