North Idaho getting closer to re-activating crisis standards of care

COUER D’ALENE, Id. — While Idaho deactivated their crisis standards of care just a few weeks ago, they could make a return very soon.

Cases in North Idaho are on the rise, and there are no signs of them slowing down. The omicron surge is hitting Idaho just as hard as it hit Spokane.

COVID-19’s positivity rate rose from eight percent last month, to over 40 percent this month. Of all those getting tested for COVID-19, over 40 percent in Kootenai County are coming back positive.

“The trigger point that will drive us to crisis standards of care, it’s about 490 cases on average that we’re charting,” said Karen Yao, an Epidemiologist at Panhandle Health District. “We’re currently at about 300 that we’re charting right now.”

Reactivating the crisis standards of care is slowly becoming an option.

“The crisis standards of care largely has to do with the availability of resources at the hospital, so it really just depends on what our hospital has the capacity to deal with,” said Yao.

Dr. Anthony Rehil-Crest, Chief Clinical Officer for Heritage Health, says their urgent care clinics and testing sites are already struggling heavily.

“We’re trying to keep our testing sites in North Idaho open, but that requires staff too and with the increase of the volume of people needing testing and the staffing issue, that’s making it hard to keep our testing sites open,” said Rehil-Crest.

He says the best way to keep people out of hospitals is to provide care for patients early.

“We have a number of therapeutics we can try to utilize in the outpatient setting to keep people from getting hospitalized and keep people from getting complications from COVID.”

It’s hard to gauge how fast rates of positivity in North Idaho are climbing.

“There are probably a lot of people out there that are not reporting to us so we are not charting that number so there could be, we might be a lot closer to the 490 than we already are seeing,” said Yao.

The Panhandle Health District doesn’t believe the coronavirus cases have peaked yet. They believe cases will rise for the time being.

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