All five counties in the northern Idaho Panhandle Health District — Kootenai, Bonner, Boundary, Benewah and Shoshone — moved to the “minimal risk” category for COVID-19 on Thursday, according to a Panhandle Health District news release.

“We are cautiously optimistic seeing these trends,” said Jeff Lee, an epidemiologist with the health district. “Although these trends are promising, this is not the time to let our guard down. These trends are in part because of the precautions we have been taking and should continue to take until we reach a level of herd immunity that will provide greater protection.”

For the Panhandle Health District, the minimal risk category means there are 1 to 15 new daily cases per 100,000 people on a seven-day rolling average, the positivity rate is 5 to 8 percent and regional hospital bed occupancy is 75 to 90 percent with staffing and resource shortages, according to a district news release.

The minimal risk category is the district’s second-lowest risk category. The “low risk” category is the lowest.

In Public Health – Idaho North Central District, Latah County is the only county in the “moderate risk” category, or second-lowest risk category. Lewis, Clearwater, Idaho and Nez Perce counties are in the district’s lowest risk category, which is “minimal risk.”

For Latah County, the moderate risk category means new daily confirmed cases are between 1 and 2.5 per 10,000 people on a seven-day average. For Latah County, that is 4 to 10 cases. It also means the number of daily confirmed COVID-19 hospital admissions district-wide is 5 to 10 and test results are reported in five to nine days.

Latah County had 10.71 average daily cases and 1.28 average days for test results for the week ending March 6. Total regional hospitalizations were 7 for the week ending March 6.

The health district reported 10 new cases Thursday in Latah County, pushing the total since the pandemic started to 2,837 cases (2,681 confirmed and 156 probable).

Of the total 2,837 cases, 2,589 people have recovered, 240 are active and eight have died from the virus. The 10 new cases include a boy younger than 5 years old, three people ages 5-12, five people 18-29 and one man in his 30s.

In Washington, Whitman County Public Health reported 54 new positive cases of COVID-19 Wednesday and Thursday, bringing the county total to 3,564. Total hospitalizations and deaths since the pandemic started remained steady at 91 and 45, respectively.

The 54 cases include 17 people younger than 20 years old, 34 people ages 20-39 and three people 40-59.

Washington is in Phase 1B of its COVID-19 vaccination plan. Individuals can assess their eligibility for the vaccine at

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