Coronavirus cases are spreading more rapidly in Clearwater County than anywhere else in Idaho, according to data shared Friday by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

Clearwater County had a seven-day moving average incident rate of 186 per 100,000 population. Nez Perce County wasn’t far behind, ranking third with a rate of 125.2 for the same statistic, followed by Idaho County in fourth place with a rate of 117.4.

Cases at the North Idaho Correctional Institution in Cottonwood are playing a large role in Idaho County’s number. That facility documented 49 new cases after a mass testing Wednesday.

The new information came Friday as a dramatic escalation of COVID-19 in north central Idaho continued, with the region hitting its fifth consecutive day of triple-digit increases in cases and seeing more outbreaks of the illness at nursing homes.

Altogether, 102 new cases were reported in north central Idaho on Friday, bringing the area’s total to 4,724 since COVID-19 began spreading in the spring. The number of fatalities remain unchanged at 36, while the number of those who have recovered is 2,319.

As of Friday, 24 of the deaths in north central Idaho have involved outbreaks at nursing homes, according to an update released Friday by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare that showed the disease has infected residents or staff in close to half of the just more than 400 facilities in Idaho covered by the report.

Among them are Grangeville Health and Rehabilitation, which had 26 coronavirus infections of patients or staff members in the last week after not having any in prior weeks.

Guardian Angel Homes in Lewiston also experienced its first cases of COVID-19 with seven in the last week.

At the same time, the number of staff or patients infected with the coronavirus grew from one to 14 at Meadowlark Homes in Grangeville between Nov. 6 and Friday and from 27 to 34 at Lewiston Transitional Care of Cascadia in that same time period.

Lewiston Transitional Care of Cascadia had 29 residents test positive for COVID-19 and all but one of them has recovered enough to be returned to their regular living quarters after being cared for in a special unit of the facility dedicated to those with the illness, said Steve LaForte, a company spokesman.

The facility is taking a number of measures to keep residents safe such as testing residents and staff twice a week, providing regular updates to family members and restricting visitors, he said.

“As a general policy, our employees who test positive with symptoms are sent home for self isolation and treatment, but if they are asymptomatic or not compromised, they may work in the COVID-only unit,” LaForte said.

Generally, the new cases reported Friday were spread fairly evenly. Whitman County, which has had more illnesses than any other county in the area, had 34 new infections Friday, bringing its total to 2,155. Aside from six people who are hospitalized now and 22 deaths, everyone else is isolating and recuperating at home or recovered.

Neighboring Asotin County had 24 new cases, bringing its total to 678, including four patients who are presently hospitalized and 12 deaths.

Garfield County had a single new case for a total of 64, with 59 people recovered and one death.

Latah County’s cases climbed by 29 Friday to 1,556, with 911 recovered and one death. Idaho County’s cases rose by 25 Friday to 659. Five people have died in Idaho County and 366 are recovered.

Clearwater County and Nez Perce County both had 22 new cases Friday. Overall Clearwater County has had 358 cases, with no deaths and 145 recovered. Nez Perce County’s total is 1,986 with 27 deaths and 823 people recovered.

Lewis County had four new infections Friday for a total of 165. Of those, three were fatal and 74 are categorized as recovered.

Williams may be contacted at ewilliam@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2261.

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