COVID Surge Has Pushed Much of Idaho to Rationalize Health Services
BUAZ, Idaho (AP) – Idaho public health officials say a crisis is imminent in the state’s most populous region as hospitals continue to overflow with unvaccinated coronavirus patients.
Idaho’s Southwestern and Southern regions, including Boise and Twin Falls, may be eligible to begin health rationing – a step designed to ensure that patients, most likely survivors, have access to scarce resources, such as beds in intensive care units. therapy, – any day, Idaho Department Director of Health and Human Services Dave Jappessen said Tuesday.
“We continue to set new records every week,” Jeppesen said of hospitalization due to the coronavirus. “We don’t see the peak.”
Hospitals in the northern half of the state were allowed to begin rationing health care last week when Kootenai Health in Coeur d’Alene was forced to begin treating some patients in a field hospital set up in a convention center instead of regular hospital wards.
“Almost all of the metrics we track are misdirected,” said Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Turner when it comes to coronavirus.
More than 600 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized in the state on September 11, well above the peak of last winter, when 466 people were hospitalized. Coronavirus patients in intensive care units and ventilators are also setting record numbers in the state. The vast majority of them – more than 91% – are not vaccinated against coronavirus.
The highly contagious delta variant causes nausea and sometimes kills younger patients than the original variant, Turner said. For all of 2020, more than half of COVID-19 deaths were among Idaho residents who were at least 80 years old, according to the department. This year, more than half of deaths occur in people between the ages of 50 and 79, and just over 7% of deaths occur in even younger Idaho residents.
But even as the state continues to set new records for hospitalized or ventilated people with COVID-19, weekly vaccination rates are declining. About 40,000 doses of vaccine were administered during the week of September 5, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Human Services, compared with 57,000 and 67,000 doses in each of the previous two weeks.
However, many of Idaho’s most powerful officials are reluctant to support mask demands or employment-based vaccine demands. Idaho Governor Brad Little has never issued a statewide mandate to use masks. Last week announced that he is working with Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wayden to see if they can use the judicial system to prevent President Joe Biden from demanding that major employers authorize COVID-19 vaccines or conduct routine COVID-19 testing.
Meanwhile, the governor, like state health officials, continues to urge residents to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Such calls have so far been largely ineffective. Idaho remains one of the least vaccinated states in the country, with only 50% of its residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19.