In our quest to help separate COVID-19 facts from fiction, we’re continuing to answer questions we have received through DHW’s social media accounts, in emails, and in our daily lives as we all live with the coronavirus in our communities. 

It’s important to remember that the virus that causes COVID-19 is brand new to humans, and more is being learned about it every day. All guidance is based on what public health currently knows about the coronavirus. As more is learned, guidance and knowledge could change, and we will do our best to keep you informed.  

In the meantime, it’s critical to remember to wear a mask or cloth face covering and stay six feet apart in public, stay home if you feel sick, and wash or sanitize your hands frequently.

How is the state counting case numbers for COVID-19?

Idaho COVID-19 case counts include both probable and confirmed cases.

A confirmed case is a person with a positive laboratory test result for COVID-19 from a PCR test (the polymerase chain reaction or PCR test is a laboratory technique) or diagnostic test.

A probable case is counted when a symptomatic person has risk factors or other evidence of infection. Probable cases are also counted when a person has died and their death certificate lists COVID-19 or Sars-CoV-2 as contributing to the death without lab confirmation. Probable cases can be reclassified as confirmed or even “not a case” if lab testing is done.

The state is not currently publishing test results from antibody tests because those tests do not include current infection and the priority is on finding out the current impact of disease in Idaho’s communities.

How is the state counting recovered cases, when “recovered” can mean different things to different people? 

The definition of “recovered” may vary, so it’s important to read the small print on charts and graphs. In Idaho, cases are counted as recovered when they are alive 30 days after the first day their symptoms started.

You can see this definition at the data dashboard by hovering your mouse over the number of cases recovered.

This is a metric followed by many public health agencies. But as we learn more about the virus, it could change.

Is it possible to be infected with COVID-19, recover, and then get it again? After they’ve been infected, are people immune to it?

The virus that causes COVID-19 is new, and there is a lot we don’t yet know. The question about immunity is a good one, but it’s one we don’t yet have an answer for right now. We do know that there is currently no strong evidence, yet, that people can get re-infected, but there is also very limited knowledge about how much immunity develops after infection, or how long it lasts. That’s why it’s so important for people to follow the recommended or ordered guidelines in their communities so we can all do our part to reduce the spread.

Are people who test positive getting tested again to make sure they are recovered and not spreading the virus before they return to work and to being back out in their communities?

Testing capacity in Idaho and many other states is improving, but it is still limited. Current guidance suggests that it is OK for persons recovering from COVID-19 to return to work and other community activities when at least 10 days have passed since symptoms began, and the person has been symptom-free for 24 hours.

A reminder

To slow the spread of COVID-19 in Idaho, we all need to work together. Remember to:

  • Keep at least six feet between you and others in public
  • Wear face coverings in public places (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus, and do not know it, from transmitting it to others)
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Wash your hands often
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Disinfect surfaces and objects regularly


Stay up-to-date with the latest and most accurate information on COVID-19 at the following websites:

CDC Coronavirus Disease Website

Idaho’s Coronavirus Website

Idaho Rebounds Website

DHW also posts lots of information, including daily updates on the numbers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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