The University of Idaho announced Friday it has identified 34 positive cases of COVID-19 since it first began testing students, faculty and staff in late July.
According to the UI’s website, 2,371 test results have been received, and some of the 34 who tested positive have already completed their required quarantine period and are no longer infectious.
You can find the UI test numbers at www.uidaho.edu/vandal-health-clinic/coronavirus.
Also Friday, Latah County broke its single-day record for positive COVID-19 cases with 10, according to Public Health – Idaho North Central District. Cases escalated each day this week with four Monday, five Tuesday, six Wednesday, eight Thursday and 10 Friday.
UI Communications Director Jodi Walker said protocol for positive cases differs between students who live on campus and those who live in private residences. She said students who live in UI residence halls are contacted by the university to arrange for them to be moved to the defunct dormitory Targhee Hall, which has been retrofitted to serve as an isolation space.
“Then public health provides guidance on how long they need to be in the space … and then to get out of that space, they have to be cleared by either a physician or by Idaho Public Health,” Walker said. “If they live off campus, we expect them to isolate in their home just like a staff or faculty member would.”
Walker said students who live off campus are still asked to inform the university if they have tested positive for COVID-19, she said.
Last month, University leaders said they would require all students to be tested for COVID-19 to attend class or to live in on-campus residence halls. University officials said earlier this week they have tested more than 2,700 students, faculty and staff so far and another 5,600 signed up to be tested in coming days.
Officials said they expect to test more than 8,000 students before the start of classes, however in-house testing facilities created in partnership with Gritman Medical Center to ensure fast turnaround times for results, still have not received final certification to begin processing samples. Results will continue to take at least several days until the UI lab is operational, which Walker said is expected to be the case any day now.
Alongside the new data released Friday, the UI said its reported number of 34 cases includes “some people who were known to be positive and have already completed their required quarantine period and are no longer infectious.”
“Let’s say they tested positive in Boise three weeks ago, they completed their isolation (and) they came up here — they may still test positive because you can test positive for the virus weeks after you’re past the contagious point,” Walker said. “They’ve done their isolation period, they’ve been cleared by public health but they still test positive when we test them.”
Walker said Gritman shares test results with Public Health – Idaho North Central District as well as with the university. She said the UI will update its numbers again Aug. 24 with weekly updates planned from then on.
Halfway through August, positive cases in Latah County are nearing July’s total, according to the Public Health – Idaho North Central District website at idahopublichealth.com/district-2/novel-coronavirus. There are 53 cases so far this month compared to 60 in July.
There have been 125 confirmed and nine probable cases this year in Latah County.
Five of the 10 cases Friday are people in their 20s — four women and one man. One man is in his 50s, one man is in his 40s, another man is in his 30s, one woman is in her 50s and one male is 10 to 19.
One positive case was reported Friday in Whitman County, bringing the total to 128. The patient is a man between 40 and 59 and is stable and self-isolating, according to Whitman County Public Health.
No one has died from the virus in Latah or Whitman counties.
Elsewhere in the region, five positive cases were reported Friday in Nez Perce County and one was reported in Idaho County.
Nez Perce County is up to 157 confirmed and 15 probable cases with 19 deaths, and Idaho County is at 33 confirmed cases.
Two positive cases were reported Friday in Asotin County, bringing its total to 39 with two deaths. Forty-six cases were reported Friday in Spokane County, bringing the total to 4,767. There have been 95 deaths and 38 people are hospitalized in Spokane County.
Scott Jackson can be reached at (208) 883-4636, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Staff writer Garrett Cabeza contributed to this report.