Little reactivates Idaho National Guard, urges vaccine

By Reader Staff

Idaho Gov. Brad Little announced Aug. 31 that he would once again mobilize the Idaho National Guard to assist in the COVID-19 crisis — this time to “support short-staffed medical facilities” with logistical tasks such as screenings and lab work.

In addition, medical and administrative personnel will come to Idaho through a contract with the U.S. General Services Administration, and a 20-person Department of Defense medical response team will head to North Idaho, “where vaccination rates are among the lowest in the state and where they are experiencing the greatest need.”

In total, 370 personnel are being dispatched to the state. The move is a “last-ditch effort to avoid the first-ever activation of statewide crisis standards of care,” according to a media release from Little’s office.

“On a daily call with hospitals this morning, we heard there are only four adult ICU beds available in the entire state, out of close to 400. Where hospitals have converted other spaces to be used as contingency ICU beds, those are filling up, too,” the governor said Aug. 31. “We are dangerously close to activating statewide crisis standards of care — a historic step that means Idahoans in need of health care could receive a lesser standard of care or may be turned away altogether. 

“In essence, someone would have to decide who can be treated and who cannot. This affects all of us, not just patients with COVID-19,” he said.

Little continued to urge Idahoans to receive a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, as the “vast majority” of hospitalized COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated.

“I want to thank the more than 818,000 Idahoans who have shown love for their neighbor by choosing to receive the safe and effective vaccine,” Little said. “To the others, please choose to receive the vaccine now to protect lives, help our exhausted medical staff, keep health care access available to all of us, keep our workforce healthy and keep our kids in school.”

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