‘It just feels like we’re not able to come up for air’: North Idaho continues to grapple with COVID surge

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho – Hospitals are on the brink between shortages and more people going to the hospital with COVID.

Kootenai Health broke its record for the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 once again. On Tuesday morning, the hospital said it is treating 97 people with COVID-19, with 35 of them are in the intensive care unit. The last record was 96 patients in the hospital, which happened last week.

On Tuesday, Idaho Governor Brad Little announced he will be bringing in an additional 370 people to help out across the state’s hospital.

Little said he is mobilizing the Idaho National Guard once again, with up to 150 guardsmen supporting medical facilities. They’ll be doing things such as screening, lab work and other duties.

The state will also be contracting with the U.S. General Services Administration to get 200 medical and administrative personnel.

Finally, Little said there will be a team of 20 people from the Department of Defense Medical Response Team that will help in the Idaho Panhandle.

“The DOD medical response team will be deployed in North  Idaho where we’re seeing the greatest need,” said Governor Little.

READ: Kootenai Health picks back up monoclonal antibody treatment after brief break

RELATED: Kootenai Health converts conference room to patient room as COVID-19 hospitalizations spike

Any additional staff will help North Idaho. Katherine Hoyer, the public information officer with the Panhandle Health District, said Kootenai Health has been asking for help for “a while” with the surge of cases.

As of Tuesday, 102 people are in North Idaho hospitals with COVID. There are 97 people at Kootenai Health.

The Panhandle has the state’s lowest vaccination rate, with only 44 percent of people in its five counties vaccinated. Central Idaho is seeing the highest number of people vaccinated at 63 percent.

There has been an increase in vaccinations in recent weeks, Hoyer said. However, it’s still not enough to help relieve hospitals yet.

RELATED: Gov. Little calls in help amid surge in COVID patients

Governor Little hopes with the additional people coming to hospitals to help statewide, they won’t have to turn people away.

“I hope and pray there will be enough for us to avoid statewide crisis standards of care but we are teetering on the brink and there’s only one real solution to the crisis,” Little continued. “We need more Idahoans to choose to receive the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.”

There are concerns moving forward, even with the help coming. Students in North Idaho are about to head back to school and then there’s the flu season, too.

“With the Delta variant and how quickly this has been spreading. It’s just, it just feels like we’re not able to come up for air now,” Hoyer said.

READ: Kootenai Health picks back up monoclonal antibody treatment after brief break

RELATED: Kootenai Health converts conference room to patient room as COVID-19 hospitalizations spike