Virus Outbreak (copy)

Idaho is expanding COVID-19 vaccine eligibility.

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The COVID-19 vaccine is now eligible for everyone 16-years-old and older in Madison County.

Eastern Idaho Public Health Director Geri Rackow announced on Thursday that the health district has opened up vaccine eligibility for anyone 16-years-old and up.

On Monday, vaccine eligibility opened for all Idahoans aged 16 and up. Gov. Brad Little earlier announced in a press release this would go into effect on April 5. Some health districts in the state, including EIPH, were able to open up eligibility to that group before April 5, Rackow said.

“Folks, with each passing week as more and more Idahoans choose to get vaccinated, we get closer to returning to normal. The COVID vaccine really is our best shot at protecting jobs and saving lives. Please choose to receive the safe and effective vaccine,” Little said in the release.

People interested in receiving the vaccine can sign up for an appointment with Idaho’s COVID-19 Vaccine Pre-Registration System at COVIDvaccine.idaho.gov, or though their local health district.

David Hoffenberg, chief operations officer for Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center said there has been an uptick in COVID-19 patient population in the region since February during the health district’s board meeting.

“Since our time in February where we had dipped into the single digits, we have more than tripled our COVID inpatient volumes,” Hoffenberg said.

Speaking on behalf of Madison Memorial Hospital Chief Executive Officer Rachel Gonzalez, Hoffenberg said March 11 was the last day Madison Memorial had no COVID-19 patients in the hospital during the region’s downward trend of cases.

Last week, Madison Memorial was averaging five to eight daily COVID-19 patients, Hoffenberg said.

On Monday, health board member and Madison County Commissioner Brent Mendenhall said he has received many emails from people that have been critical of the health board’s decision to end its mask order during the county commissioner’s meeting.

James Corbett, health district community health administrator said on Thursday that the health district has attributed the rise in cases in March more due to people not staying home when they are sick than the end of the mask order.

“Many individuals are not heeding the advice, first and foremost, to stay home when they are sick,” Corbett said.

Madison County has 135 active reported COVID-19 cases as of April 3. The active case rate is 33.8 per 10,000 and there have been 23 COVID-19 deaths in the county.

Fremont County has 11 active reported COVID-19 cases. The active case rate is 8.4 per 10,000 and there have been 14 COVID-19 deaths in the county.