By Kanishka Singh
(Reuters) - Idaho on Tuesday activated "crisis standards of care" to allow for healthcare rationing at hospitals in northern parts of the state due to a surge in COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization.
The activation in the Panhandle and North Central health districts follows a severe shortage of staffing and available beds in those areas, the state's health department said in a statement.
Idaho Governor Brad Little said last week he was reactivating the National Guard and directing up to 370 additional people to help hospitals as they were overwhelmed with unvaccinated COVID-19 patients.
Little said at the time: "We are dangerously close to activating statewide crisis standards of care – a historic step that means Idahoans in need of healthcare could receive a lesser standard of care or may be turned away altogether."
On Tuesday, the Republican governor said: "We have reached an unprecedented and unwanted point in the history of our state. We have taken so many steps to avoid getting here, but yet again we need to ask more Idahoans to choose to receive the COVID-19 vaccine."
When "crisis standards of care" are in effect, people who need medical care may experience different treatment from what they expect. For example, patients admitted to a hospital may find that beds are not available or are in repurposed rooms, or that needed equipment is unavailable, the health department said.
The northwestern U.S. state has so far seen 228,093 cases of COVID-19 and recorded over 2,400 deaths from the coronavirus, according to its health department's website. There were 1,025 new coronavirus cases recorded on Tuesday.
Over 834,000 people in the state of more than 1.8 million residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while over 744,000 people are fully vaccinated, according to government data.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Cooney)