COVID-19 death reported in Nez Perce County

A Nez Perce County man in his 70s has died of COVID-19, according to figures posted Tuesday on the Public Health – Idaho North Central District website.

It was the first virus death reported in north central Idaho and southeastern Washington since Dec. 14. It raised the region’s death toll for December to six, which continues a recent downward trend. There were 60 deaths in September, 61 deaths in October and 22 deaths in November.

Case totals in the region also continued to be small Tuesday, with health officials reporting a total of 29 new infections — including 12 in Whitman County, 11 in Nez Perce County, four in Latah County and two in Idaho County.

St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Lewiston announced this week it has five patients who have been admitted for inpatient treatment for the coronavirus. That comes after the hospital reported 14 patients Dec. 13 and 13 patients Dec. 6.

The omicron variant of COVID-19 has become the dominant strain in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but hasn’t yet been officially identified in north central Idaho and southeastern Washington. Wastewater tests in Moscow last week found signs of the omicron variant, but tests of patients, which sometimes take weeks, have yet to identify the variant.