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A note from the editor 11.20

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Sharon Fisher

If you haven’t picked up on it by now, Catie Clark is kind of a data geek.

One of her favorite things to do is go find a big dataset and start playing with it to see what she can find out. And when I mean this is her favorite thing to do, I mean I’m getting IMs from her weekends and evenings (sometimes VERY LATE evenings) telling me about the amazing thing she just determined.

Now, I like to think I’m okay at stats. I know who Edward Tufte is. I have a copy of Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics. I can say “Correlation is not causation” learnedly. But I don’t hold a candle to Catie.

This week was one of those weeks. Catie was all fired up, because she had discovered a beautiful correlation — and really, correlation, like with r-values and everything — between COVID hospitalizations and Intensive Care Unit utilization.

I mean, sure, it makes sense that ICU utilization is going to track COVID hospitalizations in some way. But she discovered a very close correlation: That seven days after hospitalizations went up, ICU utilization went up, by about the same amount.

This tells you a couple of things.

One, we’re really lucky to have someone like Catie who likes to play with numbers for us, and that that’s part of the value-add that you get from Idaho Business Review.

The other is that we stand to be in a world of hurt pretty soon. Cases keep going up, and hospitalizations keep going up, and now we know that means that ICU utilization is going to keep going up — and exactly how high, seven days later.

The thing is, Idaho only has so many ICU units. And pretty soon they’re going to be full. Then, as Catie wrote about last week, Idaho hospitals are going to have some pretty tough decisions to make.

Especially since some of our neighboring states are getting kind of torqued at being expected to take care of Idahoans that they don’t see trying to take care of themselves.

I really feel for Gov. Brad Little right now, and I wish I had some advice to give him. He sounds almost bewildered that Idahoans aren’t doing the right thing by staying home when they can, and wearing masks when they go out. It sounds like he’s blaming himself because he just hasn’t found the way to say it in a way that people will understand. A way that will get people to actually wear masks, and not set them off so that they gather in big groups to protest, burn masks, and generally make things harder on the medical professionals risking their own lives trying to keep them alive.

I do this for a living, and I don’t know how to say it, either.


In other news, our Focus section this week is on construction, and there’s always plenty to talk about with that. Our front page article is about the sale of the biggest remaining parcel in the Wood River Valley, with the expectation that residences will be constructed on it in due time.

We also have the usual Ada County residential real estate update — yes, prices are still going up, and houses are still scarce — and an article by our freelancer Alx Stevens on the potential construction of a Food Innovation Center in the Magic Valley area, once a feasibility study is concluded.

As a followup to last week’s good retail news about the Magic Valley Mall, we have a Q&A interview with one of those store owners, as well as a story about how the Treasure Valley is getting a new bookstore, just in time for the holiday shopping season, both by Catie.

And Alx wrote articles about Boise State’s cybersecurity efforts, as well as a $50,000 grant that Trailhead is getting toward energy research. And just to remember where Idaho’s roots are, she also wrote about Leadership Idaho Agriculture. It’s like the leadership programs that Chambers of Commerce sponsor that we wrote about a while back, except it’s statewide and focused entirely on agriculture.

We also have our usual batch of COVID news, including a report on Gov. Little’s press conference last Friday, and about the Rural Health Care Heroes awards. This year, it must have been hard to hold it down to just six.

Next week is Thanksgiving, and we’re off Thursday and Friday, probably like a lot of you. Our website will still get new articles on Friday, and a new issue of the paper will come out Friday just like normal.

It’s nice to have some things be normal.



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