There were 18 new cases of COVID-19 in north central Idaho and southeastern Washington reported by public health officials Wednesday, as poor air quality continued to hinder testing in Whitman County.

Public health officials reported five new cases in Nez Perce County, six new cases in Asotin County, two new cases each in Latah, Idaho and Garfield counties and one new case in Whitman County, where cases previously had been rising quickly.

There have been 794 cases reported by Public Health–Idaho North Central District and 1,158 cases in the three southeastern Washington counties for a total of 1,952 cases in the region since the pandemic began. There have been 22 deaths from COVID-19 in the region; 20 in Nez Perce County and two in Asotin County.

“The recent decrease in positive test results should not be assumed to be a result of an associated decrease in viral activity,” Whitman County Public Health Director Troy Henderson said. “Current air quality concerns have hampered COVID-19 testing efforts.”

Conditions across the region have been “unhealthy” to “hazardous,” according to the U.S. Air Quality Index, since late last week, when wind conditions changed and smoke from wildfires raging in California, Oregon and Washington settled over the region.

Whitman County’s one new case is a woman between the ages of 20-39 who is self-isolating and in stable condition. The additional case brings the county’s total to 1,066 cases since the pandemic began. No one has died from COVID-19 in Whitman County, and there have only been two hospitalizations because of it. No one is currently hospitalized in the county because of the disease.

Asotin County reported six more cases Wednesday. It has reported 80 cases and two deaths from COVID-19 since the pandemic began, with eight people hospitalized. At least four people are hospitalized now from recent cases, according to Asotin County Public Health Administrator Brady Woodbury.

Garfield County reported two men older than 20 had tested positive for the disease, bringing that county’s total to 12 cases. The two men are recovering at home, according to Garfield County Public Health District Administrator Martha Lanman. The county reports 10 people have recovered in the county. No one has been hospitalized because of the disease in Garfield County.

Nez Perce County reported five new cases: a man and a woman in their 30s, a woman in her 40s, a woman in her 60s and a woman in her 70s tested positive Wednesday. The county’s total is 387 cases: 20 people have died, 194 people have recovered and 173 cases are active.

Nimiipuu Health, the Nez Perce Tribe’s health service, didn’t have any positive cases to report Wednesday.

Latah County added two more cases — a man in his 40s and a man between the ages of 18-29 tested positive — to bring the county’s total to 294 Wednesday. There are 140 active cases of the disease in the county, and 154 people have recovered.

Idaho County reported two new cases of COVID-19, bringing the county’s total to 76 cases since the pandemic began. A woman between the ages of 18-29 and a man in his 60s tested positive for the disease Wednesday. There are 38 active cases in the county, and 38 people have recovered.

Clearwater and Lewis counties did not report any new cases.

According to Idaho’s novel coronavirus (COVID-19) website, the week of Aug. 30 through Sept. 5 had the highest percentage of positive test results in the north central district, at 6.5 percent. There were 567 COVID-19 tests reported in the district that week. The positive test rate exceeded the district’s previous high from Aug. 16-22, when 1,756 people were tested for COVID-19 and 5.6 percent were positive.

Idaho reported 283 new cases Wednesday and six more deaths attributed to COVID-19, bringing the state’s totals to 36,093 and 429 respectively. The state reports there are currently 127 available intensive care unit beds and 468 available ventilators in hospitals across the state. The state requires at least 50 intensive care beds and 50 ventilators be available under its Rebound Idaho criteria.

Idaho reports 123 people were in 46 hospitals across the state because of the disease as of Monday, and 54 Idahoans were in intensive care units because of COVID-19. The Gem State has reported a total of 1,658 Idahoans hospitalized because of COVID-19 since the pandemic began in the winter.

Washington reported 347 new cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 Wednesday and five more deaths, bringing the state’s totals to 80,812 cases and 2,020 deaths. The Evergreen State also reports 7,162 people have been hospitalized because of the disease.

Wells may be contacted at or (208) 848-2275.

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