Updated by Gretchen Parsons after 2:30PM:
Idaho’s top health officials gave an update on Idaho’s COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. Dr. James P. Souza, St. Luke’s Chief Physician Executive, says there have been 80 COVID-19 deaths across the health system since the beginning of September. 35 of those deaths occurred this past week. Of those 80 deaths, 23 were people under the age of 60, 12 were under the age of 50, six were people under 40, and three people were under 30 years of age.
“We’ve gone from 33 COVID hospitalizations across our system in July to 289 today,” Dr. Souza said. “COVID previously accounted for about 8% of our adult hospitalizations, and today, it accounts for 67% with this single diagnosis. And that’s an unprecedented event in modern medicine.”
Additionally, Dr. Souza said that many COVID patients across St. Luke’s are younger and require a longer stay in the ICU.
“For those who go to the ICU and survive, they will be terribly disabled for at least a short period of time, I’m talking months,” Dr. Souza said. “Sometimes that will be permanent. You cannot spend four weeks on mechanical ventilation paralyzed and sedated and then stand up and walk away.”
Governor Little also announced Tuesday that Idaho is directing an additional $10 million in relief dollars for hospitals, primary and urgent care clinics, and skilled nursing facilities due to the surge in COVID-19 patients needing care.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare activatedCrisis Standards of Care (CSC) statewidelast week because of the increase in patients. Although it is activated statewide, hospitals will implement as needed and according to their own policies.
Not all hospitals will move to that standard of care, if they are managing under their current circumstances, they can continue to do so.
“We have taken many steps to preserve access to healthcare during the pandemic, and this latest round of support will help ease the burden on our hospitals and healthcare heroes right now,” Governor Little said.
Little and the state of Idaho have directed the following resources, according to a news release:
- New funds to establish three new monoclonal antibody treatment facilities across Idaho. There are 32 Idaho hospitals offering monoclonal antibodies in Idaho.
- By mobilizing the National Guard, deploying a military medical response team to North Idaho, and contracting with the federal government, up to 370 additional personnel were added to assist hospitals.
- Total $7 million to hospitals to help relieve staffing shortages.
- Total $4.5 million for primary care and urgent care entities that serve an important role in keeping people from becoming so ill they need to seek medical care at the hospital.
- Total $8.5 million to preserve hospital capacity by increasing discharges from hospitals to skilled nursing facilities for COVID-19 positive patients.
- Temporary licensing fees were waived again for retired or inactive nurses so they can activate their licenses and reenter the workforce more easily.
- $30 million toward expanded COVID-19 testing in Idaho K-12 schools to minimize virus transmission.