The Idaho Department of Public Health and Wellness on Monday promulgated crisis protocols for three southern public health districts in the state reeling from an increase in coronavirus cases due to the spread rampant release of the omicron variant, officials said.
“The highly contagious omicron variant threw a curve ball at us,” Dave Jeppesen, director of the Idaho Department of Public Health and Wellness, said in a statement. “Once again, the situation in our hospitals and healthcare systems is dire – we don’t have enough resources to treat patients properly.”
COVID cases skyrocketed in September 2021, leading the state to enact the crisis protocol.
More than 3,000 new cases of COVID-19, the majority caused by the omicron variant, were reported in the state Monday, according to data from the state’s online coronavirus dashboard. The percentage of positive COVID-19 tests has doubled in the past month, from 8.6% in December to 17.1% in January, the data showed.
“Please get vaccinated and boosted if you can and wear a high quality protective mask in public places,” Jeppesen said in a statement. “Omicron is so much more infectious than previous variants, and although a lower percentage of cases end up in hospital, the record number of cases continues to strain our healthcare system”
A large number of clinical and non-clinical medical staff have been unable to work due to their infection with the virus, health officials said.
The State Department reported that on January 21, one of the largest health care providers, Saint Alphonsus, requested crisis care standards due to extreme staff shortages and low supply of blood available. Despite canceling non-emergency surgical appointments, conserving blood supply and hiring more nurses, the COVID-19 surge has stretched healthcare facilities like Saint Alphonsus extremely thin.
St. Alphonsus’ request also highlighted the need to implement blood conservation strategies due to nationwide blood shortages.
To continue to provide the usual standard of care to those most in need, standard crisis care protocols will require things like postponement of elective surgery, etc.
The goal of activating the protocol is to supply and care for as many patients as needed, Jeppesen said in his statement.
Crisis Care Standards have been activated in Southwest, Central, and South-Central Idaho health districts. The state will monitor COVID numbers and staffing shortages in other regions and hospitals to see if protocols need to be expanded further.
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