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Idaho’s COVID-19 positivity rate is rising rapidly again. Are cases increasing, too?


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BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — The presence of COVID-19 is rising again in Idaho.

For the week of May 15, the state’s test positivity rate, which measures the portion of COVID-19 tests that come back positive, rose to its highest rate since mid-February, when the state was recovering from a major omicron surge.

The rate now stands at 7.6%, which is higher than the 5% threshold that public health experts use to measure control of a respiratory pandemic.

As recently as the week of April 17, the rate was just 2.6%.

Officials from Idaho’s Department of Health and Welfare have stressed that the prevalence of at-home rapid COVID-19 tests, which are not recorded in the state’s figures, may skew those figures.

Accompanying the higher positivity rate is a rising case rate, although overall case counts are still quite low compared to where they were. The case rate has quadrupled since the middle of last month to a 7-day moving average of 12.7 new cases per capita.

New omicron subvariants are causing a growing number of infections in the U.S., and health officials have predicted major surges later this year.

On May 20, the board of the Boise area’s public health district, Central District Health, voted to remove mask recommendations from its materials and might decline to weigh in on COVID-19 vaccinations for children later this summer.

Masks have repeatedly been shown to be effective at reducing the spread of COVID-19, and vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.