Gov. Brad Little announces Idaho hospitals may not be able to care for all patients soon, pleads Idahoans to get vaccinated

<p><p>Gov. Brad Little announced Tuesday that Idaho hospitals are approaching a crisis point where medical care may not be available to everyone, with only four adult ICU beds available in the entire state.</p></p><p><p>The solution, Little said, was simple. Idahoans need to get vaccinated. Only 39.2% of Idahoans are fully vaccinated against the coronaviris, according to the Washington Post. Only Wyoming, Alabama and Mississippi have lower vaccination rates among the states. </p></p><p><p>“Please choose to receive the vaccine now to support your fellow Idahoans,” Little said. “They need you.”</p></p><p><p>Little said that the unrelenting strain of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced Idaho on the brink of activating statewide crisis standards of care. That level of crisis would mean people needing hospital treatment could receive a lesser standard of care or be turned away all together.</p></p><p><p>In essence, Little said, someone would have to decide who gets treated and who does not.</p></p><p><p>Data definitively shows that the current COVID surge is mainly affecting unvaccinated Idahoans; 98.9% of new cases, 98.6% of hospitalizations and 98.7% of deaths since Jan. 1 are among the unvaccinated, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. </p></p><p><p>Little said he was heartbroken when he toured a nearly full ICU ward in Boise on Monday night.</p></p><p><p>“I was told the average age of the patients was 43,” said Little. “All of them struggling to breathe.”</p></p><p><p>Little did not mention plans for statewide mask mandates. Little signed an executive order banning “vaccine passports” to receive public services or access facilities in April.</p></p><p><p>Little announced several initiatives to increase health care capacity at hospitals. Idaho added 370 additional personnel to help hospitals – 220 federal medical and administrative staffers, and  150 members of the National Guard to aid with logistical duties during the current surge. A 20-person medical response team from the Department of Defense will come to North Idaho, where Kootenai Health continues to treat record-breaking numbers of COVID-19 patients and where vaccination rates are among the lowest in the state.</p></p><p><p>Three monoclonal antibody treatment centers will also be opened in Coeur d’Alene, metro Boise and Pocatello to attempt to treat people with COVID-19 before they need to go to the hospital.</p></p><p><p>Finally, Little announced initiatives to add more nurses to the workforce, like allowing inactive nurses to return to work without paying licensing fees  and fast-tracking nursing students to graduation.</p></p><p><p>But the overwhelming message from the governor was that more Idahoans getting vaccinated was the solution to the impending triage crisis.</p></p><p><p>“Please choose to receive the vaccine to protect lives,” said Little.</p></p>