Medical expert warns Idaho could see fourth COVID surge

SPOKANE, Wash. — While cases have dropped in North Idaho, medical experts warn the pandemic isn’t over yet. They’re worried about what will happen with kids back in school.

If this past year has taught us anything, it’s that we’re all in this together.

“When this first started, we could look to see what was happening in China and other countries to get an idea,” said Dr. David Pate, Retired CEO with St. Luke’s Medical Center.

The coronavirus has evolved since then, with several variants across the United States.

“What we’re seeing is concerning,” said Pate.

Pate says right now there are three variants he’s concerned about – the UK, South African, and California variants. He says the UK variant is the one he’s especially worried about and it’s already popping up across Idaho.

“This new variant, the UK variant, behaves differently in children than what we’ve been dealing with most of this past year,” said Pate.

These variants, combined with cases not dropping as low as they should, has Pate worried another surge could be on the horizon.

“We’ve gone through this three times. We have these surges and every time we’re coming down people think okay it’s all over and it’s not,” said Pate.

It’s why he’s urging schools in Idaho to reconsider allowing all of their kids back on campus at once.

“What we’ve seen with the UK variant in Europe is that kids play a much bigger role in transmission,” Pate said.

He says even though the majority of kids will be okay, it’s their parents he’s concerned about. Particularly those who aren’t vaccinated.

“If you’re going to get infected, you would much rather get infected having been vaccinated than not,” Pate said.

Whether it’s for you or those around you, Pate says getting vaccinated is the best way to keep everybody safe.