Watch live: Idaho Health officials to address Idaho Omicron spike –

Increasingly, hospital and clinic workers are falling ill, leading to staff shortages.

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho health leaders are set to hold their weekly COVID-19 briefing Tuesday as case counts continue to trend upward across the state. 

The briefing is set to begin at 2:30 p.m. and will be streamed live in this story.

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen, Administrator for the Division of Public Health  Elke Shaw-Tulloch, state epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn, deputy state epidemiologist Dr. Kathryn Turner, Chief of the Idaho Bureau of Laboratories Dr. Christopher Ball and manager of the Idaho Immunization Program Sarah Leeds are all set to attend the briefing.

The address comes the day after 1,289 new cases were confirmed. The state dashboard is also recording a percent positivity rate of over 17%, well above the preferred threshold.

The current surge is believed to be linked to the Omicron variant of COVID-19, which doctors say appears to be highly contagious but possibly less severe than previous variants.

Ada and Bannock counties have seen the highest numbers of new cases this week, with 191 and 185 cases respectively. Increasingly hospital and clinic workers are falling ill, leading to staff shortages. 

Primary Health, which has been hit hard by the number of people seeking care, was forced to temporarily close four clinics last week. On Tuesday, Saint Alphonsus announced that three of its urgent care locations will also be closed on weekends going forward due to the high number of sick staff.

Hospital leaders have warned that the “fifth wave” of COVID cases could place Idaho back into crisis standards of care. The state was under crisis standards earlier in the fall as the Delta variant infected scores of Idahoans, but numbers improved enough to leave the designation in late November. 

Hospitalizations remain lower than in the September spike, even as case counts climb, something doctors have attributed to the higher number of those who are vaccinated and have received booster shots. The overwhelming majority of those who end up hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. 

Check back for updates. 

At KTVB, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here:

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