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With ICU beds dwindling, Little to call up Natl. Guard, ask for staff from federal government

On Tuesday afternoon, Governor Brad Little said Idaho is “dangerously close” to activating statewide crisis standards of care at hospitals, which essentially means patients would be prioritized based on their needs and possibly turned away. According to Idaho health officials, there are more Idahoans in the ICU with COVID-19 than ever before. Out of the 400 ICU beds staffed in Idaho, only four are available.

“This affects all of us not just patients with COVID-19,” Little said. “We cannot allow that to happen unless we have done all that we can to address this crisis playing out in our hospitals.”

[What are Idaho’s most & least vaccinated ZIP codes? Explore interactive map]

To avoid activating statewide crisis standards of care, Little announced he is adding 370 additional personnel to assist hospitals with the surge. 200 of that personnel would be medical and administrative staff including, nurses, CNAs, and medical assistants, available through a contract with the U.S. General Services Administration. 150 Idaho National Guardsmen will be tasked with logistical support such as screening, lab work, and other duties. A 20-person medical response team from the Department of Defense will be deployed to North Idaho, where they are experiencing the greatest need.

In addition, the Governor said he would be waiving state licensing fees for retired healthcare professionals so they can activate their licenses and reenter the workforce more easily during this unprecedented time. This same step last year cleared the way for more than 1,000 nurses and other health professionals to help out.

Little closed out his speech by saying the COVID-19 vaccine is Idaho’s ticket of getting out of the pandemic.

“I hope it will be enough for us to avoid statewide crisis standards of care, but we are teetering on the brink and there is only one real solution, we need more Idahoans to choose to receive the safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine now,” Little said.

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Gretchen Parsons - BoiseDev Managing Editor
Gretchen Parsons is BoiseDev's managing editor. Contact her at [email protected].

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