Gov. Inslee worried about COVID-19 spread in Idaho impacting Washington

SPOKANE, Wash.– Washington Governor Jay Inslee is growing tired of Washington’s neighbor not putting in place proper COVID-19 restrictions.

“Kootenai County is removing a mask mandate while they’re shipping us patients? I’m concerned about that,” Inslee said.

North Idaho’s biggest hospital, Kootenai Health, is at 97 percent capacity as of Tuesday. The hospital also has 39 people being treated for COVID-19 right now, and that is the highest total since the start of this pandemic.

RELATED: Kootenai Health at 99 percent capacity, may have to transfer patients to hospitals in Seattle and Portland

RELATED: Gov. Inslee wants Idaho to adopt mask mandate

A model from the University of Washington shows how many people are masking up in public across the U.S.

Right now, about 75-85 percent of people wear one in Washington, compared to just 40-50 percent in Idaho.

“We will continue to help them in our hospitals,” Inslee said. “Their losses are ours, but we sure could use some help.”

Despite that surge in North Idaho, Inslee said he is not considering a quarantine for those who cross the border.

“The interchange between the two states on a daily basis is so profound,” Inslee said. “It would be very difficult for people in so many different ways.”

The Washington Department of Health is also asking Washingtonians to do better. The department said if 95 percent of people mask up, then 1,000 local lives could be saved by February.

Inslee said that and distancing are the only ways to contain this virus right now.

“Some folks think we can just take vulnerable people, and put them in a bottle, put a cork on top of it and protect them until a vaccine shows up,” Inslee said. “It just isn’t possible.”