COVID crisis continues in North Idaho as the rest of the state moves forward

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — The COVID crisis continues in North Idaho even as the rest of the state moves forward. 

Crisis Standards of Care were deactivated for all parts of Idaho on Monday, except the Panhandle area. This is because the number of COVID-19 patients remains high and continues to stress healthcare systems. 

Kootenai Health has seen a decrease in COVID-19 admissions and positivity rates, but just not as much as the rest of the state. 

READ: Crisis standards of care deactivated for all Idaho hospitals excluding those in North Idaho

“We are not sharing a mission accomplished message,” said Dr. James Souza, Chief Physician Executive for St. Luke’s Health System. “We don’t believe this will be our last surge of COVID. We hope it’s the worst one. I think all you need to do is look to North Idaho for some insight into how volatile the situation remains.” 

As of Monday, Kootenai Health was treating 58 patients with COVID. Twenty-six of them were receiving critical care. Thirty-three patients have died from COVID since the beginning of the month. 

Meantime, the situation is much better in other parts of the Gem State. 

“Moving out of Crisis Standards of Care, for most the state, is an indication that COVID cases and hospitalizations are headed in the right direction,” Dave Jeppesen, Director of Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, explained. 

The rest of Idaho is in a Contingency Standard of Care. That means COVID numbers are still high and stressing the system, but the surge is not exceeding healthcare resources. 

“This is a moment where we can collect ourselves, reflect on the innovations implemented, things learned and pivot, looking forward to how we’re going to stop history from repeating itself,” Souza said. 

At this point, the rest of the state is allowing and even encouraging staff to take some much-needed time off. 

The challenges are not over yet, though. There is a backlog of 7,000-8,000 surgical cases that have not been scheduled or were delayed due to the surge. 

Idaho is still utilizing FEMA resources and health leaders hope they can take a step forward to continue moving in the right direction. 

“Let’s use what we’ve learned before to not do what we did before and expect a different outcome,” Souza said. 

Health leaders are now stressing the importance of vaccinations and taking proper steps to limit the spread of the virus during the upcoming holidays. 

EXPLAINER: What are ‘Crisis Standards of Care?’

READ: Covid-19 cases are on the rise with Thanksgiving just three days away