COVID-19 cases in Whitman County have spiked in recent weeks, though a majority of the new infections have been in congregated settings, said the director of the county’s public health department.

Chris Skidmore said that for the week of May 3-9, the county had approximately 50 new cases; the week before that, from April 26-May 2, there were about 75 new cases.

“The vast majority of those cases have been in congregate settings — long-term care, child care, school setting,” Skidmore said Friday. “I’d say about 70% of our cases right now are in those settings. I think if you’re not going to be in a congregate setting, you’re going to be fairly safe, but if you attend a large (gathering), then you may want to reconsider masking up for that event.”

Whitman County stopped posting its case total for the entire pandemic in early March because “it’s not really a useful metric,” Skidmore said.

Instead, the county reports new cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days. That figure is usually updated each Monday on the county’s public health website, Skidmore said.

Those seeking the actual number of new cases in the county simply need to cut the per-100,000 figure in half, Skidmore said, since Whitman County has a population of about 50,000. The per-100,000 figure posted this past Monday was 100, so that means about 50 new cases.

At this stage of the pandemic, case totals should be taken with a grain of salt because of at-home tests. A positive COVID-19 test at home isn’t a reportable figure, so those cases don’t make it on the official tally unless the person has their infection confirmed in a “clinical setting,” Skidmore said.

The eight-county region of north central Idaho and southeastern Washington saw more COVID-19 activity this week, including a death in Asotin County.

The person who died was a woman between the ages of 70 and 90. The death was reported Friday by Asotin County Public Health.

Here are the region’s COVID-19 weekly totals in 2022:

Week ending Jan. 7 — 682 cases, 6 deaths.

Week ending Jan. 14 — 1,475 cases, 1 death.

Week ending Jan. 21 — 2,170 cases, 6 deaths.

Week ending Jan. 28 — 2,433 cases, 2 deaths.

Week ending Feb. 4 — 1,418 cases, 14 deaths.

Week ending Feb. 11 — 768 cases, 3 deaths.

Week ending Feb. 18 — 415 cases, 3 deaths.

Week ending Feb. 25 — 244 cases, 6 deaths.

Week ending March 4 — 164 cases, 10 deaths.

Week ending March 11 — 80 cases, 24 deaths. (Whitman County numbers not included)

Week ending March 18 — 52 cases, 1 death. (Whitman County numbers not included)

Week ending March 25 — 44 cases, 3 deaths. (Whitman County numbers not included)

Week ending April 1 — 11 cases, 1 death. (Whitman County numbers not included)

Week ending April 8 — 18 cases, 0 deaths. (Whitman County numbers not included)

Week ending April 15 — 21 cases, 1 death. (Whitman County numbers not included)

Week ending April 22 — 36 cases, 0 deaths. (Whitman County numbers not included)

Week ending April 29 — 41 cases, 1 death. (Whitman County numbers not included)

Week ending May 6 — 65 cases, 0 deaths. (Whitman County numbers not included)

Week ending May 13 — 116 cases, 1 death.

Baney may be contacted at mbaney@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2262. Follow him on Twitter @MattBaney_Trib.

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