COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
COVID-19 (Coronavirus; CDC graphic)

It’s time for anoth­er install­ment of of our spe­cial series COVID-19 Update, bring­ing you the lat­est devel­op­ments on the nov­el coro­n­avirus out­break that pub­lic health author­i­ties here and across the coun­try are work­ing to mitigate.

United States

On Mon­day, Decem­ber 20th, the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC) announced that the Omi­cron vari­ant of the COVID-19 virus was the dom­i­nant ver­sion of the virus in the Unit­ed States., account­ing for 73% of new infec­tions in the pre­vi­ous week.

On Tues­day, Decem­ber 21st, Pres­i­dent Biden announced new steps in response to the alarm­ing surge in coro­n­avirus cas­es fueled by the new omi­cron vari­ant, and as part of ful­fill­ing his Decem­ber 2nd nine point plan. They include ready­ing a thou­sand mil­i­tary med­ical pro­fes­sion­als to help at over­bur­dened hos­pi­tals, set­ting up new fed­er­al test­ing and vac­ci­na­tion sites, deploy­ing hun­dreds of fed­er­al vac­ci­na­tors and buy­ing 500 mil­lion rapid tests to dis­trib­ute free to the public.

In addi­tion, the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment will increase to one mil­lion units its pur­chase of the only one of three typ­i­cal­ly avail­able mon­o­clon­al anti­body treat­ments effec­tive against the Omi­cron vari­ant, that by Glax­o­SmithK­line, with 300,000 units avail­able as of Jan­u­ary 2022. The gov­ern­ment also will imme­di­ate­ly pur­chase half a mil­lion units of AstraZeneca’s new mon­o­clon­al anti­body treat­ment, also effec­tive against the Omi­cron vari­ant, to be avail­able in Jan­u­ary 2022, with more to be pur­chased over the next three months.

The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment has also pre-pur­chased ten mil­lion units of Pfiz­er’s antivi­ral reg­i­men, Paxlovid, of which 265,000 units are imme­di­ate­ly avail­able, which was approved for use by the Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion (FDA) on Wednes­day, Decem­ber 22nd, and three mil­lion units of Mer­ck­’s antivi­ral reg­i­men, mol­nupi­ravir, which is not yet approved by the FDA but which cut hos­pi­tal­iza­tion and death risk by 30% in a recent trial.

Also on Wednes­day, Decem­ber 22nd, the Supreme Court agreed to take up dis­putes over the Biden admin­is­tra­tion’s nation­wide vac­cine-or-test­ing COVID-19 man­date for large busi­ness­es and a sep­a­rate vac­cine require­ment for health­care work­ers. Oral argu­ments will begin on Fri­day, Jan­u­ary 7th, 2022.

While manda­to­ry vac­ci­na­tion has been con­sid­ered with­in the accept­able lev­el of pow­ers avail­able to var­i­ous enti­ties over mul­ti­ple cas­es, start­ing with Jacob­son v. Com­mon­wealth of Mass­a­chu­setts in 1905, the con­ser­v­a­tive major­i­ty on the Supreme Court also struck down an evic­tion mora­to­ri­um put for­ward by the Biden-Har­ris admin­is­tra­tion in August of this year, stat­ing in an unsigned major­i­ty opin­ion that “Our sys­tem does not per­mit agen­cies to act unlaw­ful­ly even in pur­suit of desir­able ends.”


On Tues­day, Decem­ber 14th,the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton pub­lished a report regard­ing the resilien­cy of the state’s food sys­tem dur­ing the pan­dem­ic. In sum­ma­ry, the state’s food sys­tem was strained but did not break, and sug­ges­tions were made as to how to improve its resiliency.

On Fri­day, Decem­ber 17th, State Sen­a­tor Doug Erick­sen died. Erick­sen had been one of the Repub­li­cans at the fore­front of the attempt to pre­vent vac­cine man­dates with­in Wash­ing­ton. He was last believed to be receiv­ing med­ical treat­ment in Flori­da, to which he had been mede­vaced approx­i­mate­ly around Fri­day, Novem­ber 19th after acquir­ing the virus while in El Salvador.

On Mon­day, Decem­ber 20th, the NHL’s Seat­tle Krak­en post­poned their third game this sea­son and will can­cel prac­tice ses­sions dur­ing the hol­i­day break due to COVID issues. Defense­men Adam Lars­son, Car­son Soucy and Jamie Olek­si­ak are present­ly in COVID-19 pro­to­col, while three oth­er play­ers were just cleared.

On Tues­day, Decem­ber 21st, a num­ber of school dis­tricts in Clark Coun­ty sus­pend­ed high school wrestling tour­na­ments until at least Jan­u­ary 3rd, 2022, after health offi­cials rec­om­mend­ed they do so due to a num­ber of out­breaks of the virus being found to have occurred as a result of pre­vi­ous tournaments.

There is still a need to test peo­ple for COVID-19 due to sig­nif­i­cant num­bers of unvac­ci­nat­ed peo­ple. Here is the best site to keep track of where you and your loved ones can be test­ed if necessary.


On Mon­day, Decem­ber 13th, the Leg­is­la­ture held a one-day spe­cial leg­isla­tive ses­sion, pass­ing a $215 mil­lion pack­age which includ­ed addi­tion­al emer­gency rental assis­tance for both ten­ants and land­lords, and funds to improve the speed with which var­i­ous agen­cies can dis­burse aid.

On Fri­day, Decem­ber 17th, the Ore­gon Health Author­i­ty announced a five-point plan to com­bat the Omi­cron vari­ant of the COVID-19 virus:

  • Urge one mil­lion Ore­go­ni­ans to get boost­ers by the end of January
  • Focus boost­ers on peo­ple who are most vul­ner­a­ble to becom­ing hos­pi­tal­ized if they catch the Omi­cron variant
  • Rapid­ly deliv­er new COVID-19 treat­ments, such as mon­o­clon­al anti­body ther­a­pies and antivi­ral drugs, and expand need­ed testing
  • Sup­port health care work­ers and hos­pi­tals in the face of the com­ing Omi­cron surge with increased staffing and sup­port local and region­al coor­di­na­tion of hos­pi­tal resources
  • Con­nect more peo­ple to boost­ers, treat­ments and testing

If you or your loved ones need to be test­ed for COVID, here is were to check for test loca­tions with­in the state near­est where you live.


Over the week start­ing Decem­ber 5th, the Ida­ho Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion sent three white papers to all Ida­ho leg­is­la­tors and began to hold meet­ings to bring region­al law­mak­ers togeth­er to dis­cuss three unfound­ed claims.

These are that unvac­ci­nat­ed indi­vid­u­als are no more like­ly to spread the SARS-CoV­‑2 virus than vac­ci­nat­ed ones; that pos­i­tive anti­bod­ies pro­vide just as much pro­tec­tion from the virus as a vac­cine; and that nat­ur­al immu­ni­ty from a past infec­tion means a per­son doesn’t need to get vaccinated.

On Wednes­day, Decem­ber 15th, the Board of Trustees at North Ida­ho Col­lege in Coeur d’A­lene vot­ed unan­i­mous­ly to insti­tute a vac­ci­na­tion require­ment and mask man­date for all staff and vol­un­teers for its Head Start pro­gram, in order to com­ply with fed­er­al stan­dards and retain over $3 mil­lion in fed­er­al funding.

A moth­er with at least one child at Ida­ho Falls’ Rocky Moun­tain Mid­dle School was arraigned on Wednes­day, Decem­ber 22nd on charges of mis­de­meanor abuse of a teacher and mis­de­meanor pro­vid­ing a false iden­ti­ty to law enforce­ment stem­ming from mul­ti­ple events in ear­ly Octo­ber in vio­la­tion of their mask policy.

There isn’t, unfor­tu­nate­ly, a state-spe­cif­ic site for where test­ing for COVID is avail­able. This site appears to be what is rec­om­mend­ed by the state of Idaho.

British Colum­bia

In reac­tion to the surge in cas­es due to the Omi­cron vari­ant with­in oth­er Cana­di­an provinces, two sets of restric­tions were imple­ment­ed start­ing Mon­day, Decem­ber 20th. In the first set, start­ing on the 20th and effec­tive through at least Jan­u­ary 31st, 2022, indoor per­son­al gath­er­ings are severe­ly restrict­ed, masks are required and cus­tomers must remain seat­ed at all cafes, restau­rants and pubs, and all sports tour­na­ments cancelled.

In the sec­ond set, start­ing Wednes­day, Decem­ber 22nd, indoor activ­i­ties not men­tioned above are severe­ly restrict­ed, with bars, night­clubs, lounges, adult gyms, fit­ness cen­ters and dance stu­dios closed through at least Jan­u­ary 18th, 2022. This is on top of a recent deci­sion to post­pone non-urgent sched­uled surg­eries start­ing Jan­u­ary 4th.

A num­ber of COVID-19 test­ing cen­ters in Metro Van­cou­ver this week, with grow­ing con­cerns about the spread of the Omi­cron vari­ant, have start­ed to see wait­ing times explode to over four hours on average.

Here is a focal point for test­ing pro­vid­ed by the provin­cial government.

The hard, cold numbers (plus vaccinations)

Wash­ing­ton has had 813,056 cas­es and 9,803 attrib­ut­able deaths.

The state has the forty-sixth worst infec­tion rate among the fifty states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and Puer­to Rico per mil­lion in population.

The state has the forty-sev­enth worst death rate among the fifty states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and Puer­to Rico per mil­lion in population.

9,842,443 tests have been recorded.

  • Dos­es of vac­cine dis­trib­uted to the state: 13,915,795
  • Dos­es admin­is­tered: 11,268,717 (80.98%)

Ore­gon has had 409,232 cas­es and 5,590 attrib­ut­able deaths.

The state has the forty-ninth worst infec­tion rate among the fifty states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and Puer­to Rico per mil­lion in population.

The state has the forty-fifth worst death rate among the fifty states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and Puer­to Rico per mil­lion in population.

8,512,999 tests have been recorded.

  • Dos­es of vac­cine dis­trib­uted to the state: 7,953,005
  • Dos­es admin­is­tered: 6,193,364 (77.87%)

Ida­ho has had 315,270 cas­es and 4,097 attrib­ut­able deaths.

The state has the nine­teenth worst infec­tion rate among the fifty states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and Puer­to Rico per mil­lion in population.

The state has the thir­ty-fourth worst death rate among the fifty states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and Puer­to Rico per mil­lion in population.

2,394,149 tests have been recorded.

  • Dos­es of vac­cine dis­trib­uted to the state: 2,741,310
  • Dos­es admin­is­tered: 1,881,077 (68.62%)

British Colum­bia has had 231,171 cas­es and 2,409 attrib­ut­able deaths.

4,940,761 tests have been recorded.

British Colum­bia has the sev­enth worst infec­tion rate and the sixth worst death rate among the thir­teen Cana­di­an provinces and ter­ri­to­ries per hun­dred thou­sand pop­u­la­tion. (If it were an Amer­i­can state, it would be fifty-third and fifty-third, respec­tive­ly, out of fifty-three.)

  • Dos­es of vac­cine dis­trib­uted to the province: 9,891,280
  • Dos­es admin­is­tered: 9,219,326 (93.21%)

That does it for this install­ment of COVID-19 Update. Stay safe and well!

Adjacent posts