Idaho experts anticipate influx of older virus patients

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BOISE — Hospitals are preparing for a potential influx of older patients after a recent spike in coronavirus infections among young people visiting bars who are likely bringing the illness home to their parents and grandparents, a health expert said Friday.

Barton Hill, vice president and chief quality officer of St. Luke’s Health System, said most of the people testing positive recently have been in their 20s and 30s.

Most aren’t “sick enough to need hospitalization,” he said, but noted several people in their 20s did need to be hospitalized. “I think probably it’s going to be the family units where it’s going to spread to more at-risk populations.”

Young adults working in senior living facilities also have the potential to bring the illness into that vulnerable population, Hill said.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

“The older patients are going to be the ones who are really going to put the pinch on our health care,” Hill said.

Idaho’s daily confirmed coronavirus cases jumped by about 10 percent to nearly 5,000 on Friday, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University that included 90 deaths. And the percentage of people testing positive jumped from 2.8 percent to 7.8 percent over the last two weeks, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

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