Public health officials in the eight-county region of north central Idaho and southeastern Washington reported 19 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, with Lewis County joining the other counties with at least one case of the disease.

The first Lewis County resident to test positive is a woman in her 80s. The case appears to be travel-related and the patient is recovering at home, Public Health – Idaho North Central District spokeswoman Tara Macke said.

The district reported nine new cases across its five counties. There have been 326 reported cases, of which 302 are confirmed cases and 24 are probable cases. There have been 19 deaths from COVID-19, all in Nez Perce County. The last of those was reported May 7.

Nimiipuu Health reported four more positive tests Tuesday, spokeswoman Kayeloni Scott said. The Nimiipuu Health cases are currently unaccounted for in the cases reported by the Idaho North Central District, according to Macke.

In southeastern Washington, public health officials reported six new cases and have reported a total of 162 cases in Asotin, Garfield and Whitman counties, along with two deaths, both in Asotin County.

“COVID-19 cases continue to increase throughout our five-county region,” Macke said. “Many residents live, work and play across county lines. This underscores the importance of each of us doing our part to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

The district encouraged wearing face coverings in public, washing hands frequently, avoiding large gatherings, staying home when sick and practicing social distancing.

Of the cases reported Wednesday, six are in Latah County. There were two women in their 20s, a man and a woman in their 30s, a male between the ages of 10 and 19 and a girl between the ages of 0 and 9.

Latah County has seen 38 people recover from the disease. There were 78 cases considered active as of Wednesday.

Nez Perce County added one new case: a boy between 0 and 9 years old.

There were 52 active cases in Nez Perce County as of Wednesday and 89 people have recovered from the disease.

Idaho County added one new case: a woman in her 50s. Public health officials report 14 people in Idaho County have recovered from the disease and 18 cases are considered active.

The 20 to 29 age group has had 77 reported cases of the disease in the Idaho North Central District, which is more than double the amount of any other age group except 30-39, where 39 people have caught the disease.

Asotin County reported four new cases Wednesday night. Asotin County has now had 32 cases since the pandemic began.

Whitman County reported two new cases, both of whom are males between the ages of 0 and 19. Both are stable and self-isolating, according to Whitman County Director of Public Health Troy Henderson.

Clearwater and Garfield counties did not report any new cases Wednesday.

As of Monday, Idaho reported 216 people hospitalized because of COVID-19, with 36 in intensive care units across the state. Since the pandemic began, there have been 1,051 Idahoans hospitalized with the disease. There were 116 ICU beds available in Idaho hospitals Wednesday and 465 ventilators available.

Idaho reports 212,898 tests have been administered since the pandemic began through Aug. 1, the latest testing data reported by the state. District 2 — which covers Clearwater, Idaho, Latah, Lewis and Nez Perce counties — has had 7,517 tests reported to the state.

Washington to change negative test reporting for COVID-19

The Washington state Department of Health announced Wednesday that it will soon be reporting the total number of tests completed, which is different from how it reports COVID-19 testing now.

Currently, the state reports the total number of unique individuals ever tested. For example, if someone tested negative in May and then again in July, they would currently only count that as one test. Current testing data does not accurately reflect the actual testing volume or the current positive test rate, a news release said.

“This new approach will give us the most complete and current picture of the actual amount of COVID-19 testing happening in our state,” Secretary of Health John Wiesman said. “This also becomes important when comparing Washington state to other states.”

As the state transitions, the COVID-19 testing dashboards will not be updated and will show preliminary data through Aug. 10 using the old methodology. The transition is expected to take about a week to complete.

Firefighter assigned to Pumpkin Fire tests positive

A wildland firefighter working on the fireline on the Pumpkin Fire in central Idaho has tested positive for COVID-19.

The firefighter developed symptoms of the disease this week and was removed from the fireline and isolated. A subsequent COVID-19 test of the firefighter came back positive. Two other firefighters working with the firefighter also developed symptoms, but rapid testing returned negative results.

All three firefighters returned to their home unit without interacting with fire crews, the incident command post in Idaho City, communities surrounding the Pumpkin Fire and the general public.

Contact tracing work is being conducted. The positive test has not affected fire suppression efforts.

The Pumpkin Fire is being fought in a joint effort between the Idaho Department of Lands, the Forest Service and the BLM. The fire is about 8 miles southeast of Garden City. It has burned 438 acres.

Wells may be contacted at mwells@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2275.