The current surge in COVID-19, caused by the Omicron variant, is causing sore test positivity rates – and it’s expected to only get worse.
Test positivity rates rose to 25.7 percent in the week ended Jan. 8, while several Idaho health care providers reported test positivity rates as high as 30-40%, according to a memo from Idaho Department of Health and Human Services director Dave Jeppesen. In the memo, Jeppesen noted that the positivity rate at the peak of the delta increase for the week ended September 11, 2021 was 17.3%.
The department’s goal is a test positivity rate of 5% or less.
“We expect that nationwide test positivity will continue to increase and remain well above the 5 percent target for some time,” Jeppesen said.
Related: “Just mindblowing”: Primary Health sees record number of patients, almost 50% test positivity
IDHW reported 3,266 new COVID-19 cases as of Jan. 12, with a backlog of 20,000 positive tests yet to be processed. The case count for Friday broke the daily case record for the third time this week. The state also reported seven new deaths, bringing the state’s total to 4,270.
Because of the number of people currently infected or at risk of contracting Omicron’s contagiousness, Jeppesen said many people will be left unemployed, including those in healthcare. The number of patients requiring treatment for COVID-19, coupled with the number of nurses, is straining the state’s healthcare resources.
Related: Health officials say omicron is spreading rapidly throughout Idaho
“This is causing a tremendous amount of stress on Idaho’s healthcare systems right now, and we expect this to get worse before it gets better,” Jeppesen said.
Jeppesen is asking people to take the following precautions to slow the spread:
- Go for a quality mask. Properly worn masks protect others and you.
- Wash your hands often.
- Decide to get vaccinated.
- If you have been vaccinated, opt for a booster shot.
- Stay home if you are sick.
“While we expect more breakthrough cases with the Omicron variant, the data show that a booster dose reduces the risk of serious outcomes, even with Omicron,” Jeppesen said in the memo. “And a booster shot will significantly reduce your risk of a severe case of COVID-19.”