Idaho to stay in stage 2, Little warns hospitals may soon be unable to handle number of COVID patients

BOISE, Idaho — Governor Brad Little announced Thursday that Idaho will remain in stage 2 of the Idaho Rebounds plan and warned that if the situation does not improve, the state will soon be unable to handle the number of COVID-19 patients requiring care.

Little said hospitals are operating at near capacity and requesting refrigerated trucks to store bodies. On top of that, healthcare workers are being forced to call out sick because they are contracting the virus.

Little’s news conference came the day after Idaho posted record-high case and death numbers and as the state deals with the highest positivity rate of COVID-19 in the country.

He called on Idahoans to do their part by social distancing and refraining from gathering in groups, but still refused to issue a statewide mask mandate.

“It would be hard for anyone to say Idaho hasn’t done all it can,” Little said.

New data released Thursday from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare indicated that COVID-19 was the leading cause of death in the state for the month of November and the third-leading cause of death since the start of the year.

In North Idaho, Kootenai Health reported it is treating the most COVID inpatients it has seen since the start of the pandemic. The high volume of hospitalizations has forced the hospital to convert two and a half units to COVID-only units, with many of those rooms at double occupancy.

A report from the White House Task Force showed Kootenai is one of the counties with the highest number of new cases.

In stage 2, group gatherings are limited to 10 people, Idahoans are encouraged to telework if possible, masks are required at long-term care facilities and bars and nightclubs must seat patrons.

READ: Kootenai Health currently treating the most COVID inpatients since start of pandemic

RELATED: White House Task Force Report: Idaho has the highest COVID positivity rate in the country