By Reader Staff
Cases of the novel coronavirus have topped 300,000 in Idaho since the pandemic first began in spring 2020, according to the state’s data-tracking system. However, the latest surge in cases appears to be slowing down, as Idaho health officials shared with reporters in a press briefing Nov. 16 that a steady decline in new cases and COVID-related hospitalizations is indicating statewide moves in the right direction.
Division of Public Health administrator Elke Shaw-Tulloch told reporters that those trends are “relieving at least some of the pressure” on Idaho hospitals, according to KTVB. The state’s health care sector has been operating under crisis standards of care since September, with North Idaho among the first regions to be activated. Crisis standards of care, which is a mode of operation under which providers are forced to allocate limited resources to those with the most dire needs, have led to the postponement of non-emergency procedures. Idaho Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen estimated Tuesday the number of those procedures around Idaho total somewhere in the thousands.
As for when crisis standards of care will be called off, there is no timeline.
“A decision will be made when the surge of patients being driven by COVID-19 no longer exceeds the healthcare resources available,” Jeppesen told KTVB. “We do monitor the situation daily.”
As of Nov. 17, Idaho reported 847,863 residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — roughly 56.2% of the state’s population over the age of 12. The Food and Drug Administration has now approved a pediatric dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech for children ages 5-11, and Idaho health officials shared with KTVB that, as of Nov. 16, more than 8,500 Idahoan children had received at least one shot. However, this data is not yet available on the state’s vaccine data-tracking website.
While Idaho Gov. Brad Little has been a proponent of the vaccine since it was first made widely available in the state, even sharing that he received a booster dose on Nov. 15, he has been adamantly against any vaccine mandate. Idaho has now joined three lawsuits challenging the federal government’s attempts at such actions, as Little argues that President Joe Biden has “no legal authority to force hospitals and other health care facilities to require their employees to get vaccinated.”
“As I’ve stated before, Biden’s coercive, threatening attempts to increase vaccination rates damage a country already divided,” Little shared in an email newsletter Nov. 17. “He is breeding a level of resentment and distrust of government that will take generations to heal. His actions simply are not good for our country, now or in the long term.”
The governor shared a photo of himself receiving his COVID-19 booster shot in the same newsletter, urging those Idahoans who are also seeking another dose to “talk to your health care provider or visit coronavirus.idaho.gov for more information.”
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