With crisis standards of care “imminent” in the Treasure Valley, state health officials are still seeing COVID-19 cases rise at alarming rates, according to Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen.
Case in point: The state added 1,657 new cases on Tuesday and 20 deaths, according to updated data from Health and Welfare. Two of the individuals who died were in their 40s and two were in their 30s, according to updated demographics.
The crisis from the current surge in poorly vaccinated Idaho has left regional hospitals on the brink of requesting crisis standards of care, which would allow them to reduce their level of medical services in situations where there are not enough resources — or caregivers — to provide standard care.
A whopping 410 of the day’s new cases were in Ada County, 209 were in Canyon County and 146 were in Twin Falls County, according to the data.
On Sept. 10, there were 626 patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 in Idaho hospitals and 169 COVID-19 patients in intensive care, according to Health and Welfare. Those numbers are 26% and 39% higher, respectively, than the figures seen during last winter’s surge.
“The numbers continue to increase, they continue to increase at an alarmingly fast rate, and we cannot see a peak in sight,” Jeppesen said at a news briefing on Tuesday.
At Saint Alphonsus Health System’s 11 urgent care clinics, providers will begin closing an hour early starting Wednesday to ensure that all patients who have arrived by the new closing time are able to receive care, according to a news release.
The change, the hospital system said, is due to the “overwhelming increase in volumes of COVID-related and non-COVID medical care,” the release said.
Saint Al’s online urgent care service, MyeVisit, will not be affected by the change, the release said, and patients can see a provider over video without an appointment.
Despite the current crisis, which health officials believe is largely caused by the highly contagious delta variant and the fact that barely 50% of eligible Idahoans are fully vaccinated, Gov. Brad Little and the state’s public health districts have declined to implement mask mandates, limits on large gatherings or vaccine requirements. Almost all patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Idaho are unvaccinated, according to state officials, as are nearly all of those dying.
But some local leaders in the state are making changes.
In Blaine County, commissioners voted unanimously this week to require masks in indoor public places, according to the Idaho Mountain Express. The town of Hailey, in Blaine County, had voted on Monday evening to implement its own mask mandate.
In Boise, Mayor Lauren McLean announced new health restrictions for city-permitted events. Those with fewer than 250 people in attendance will be required to wear masks indoors and outdoors if social distancing cannot be maintained, and larger events must require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test prior to entry. Masks — indoors and outdoors — will also be required at larger events if social distancing is not possible.
Boise State football games will not be affected by the new rules because the games are not permitted by the city.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend that everyone — including those who are vaccinated — wear masks in indoor public places with high levels of the virus, which includes every single county in Idaho.