TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Over the summer and fall, many Idaho hospitals were at or near capacity dealing with COVID-19 cases. Now, with case numbers falling and vaccinations rising, hospitals are slowly returning to normal.
The South Central Public Health District's (SCPHD) numbers from February 10 to February 16 show 150 new COVID cases district-wide. Just a month before, from January 10 to January 16, there were 460 cases district-wide. That 68% decrease has also led to fewer hospitalizations.
“The majority of our hospitals were at minimal to no impact from COVID-19. So, back into yellow or green levels as far as the risk matrix goes,” said SCPHD Public Information Officer Brianna Bodily.
St. Luke's Magic Valley currently has a total of 87 patients with only nine hospitalized for COVID. While that number still makes up for 10% of the hospital's population, it's an improvement from November when the hospital reported nearly half of their total patients being positive for COVID.
“Basically we’re at the point where we are at a normal sort of capacity for care, able to provide our normal level of service at the hospital,” said Dr. Joshua Kern, VP of Medical Affairs for St. Luke's Magic Valley.
The hospital was at near capacity at one point with staff out sick because of COVID. But, with more staff receiving vaccines, they're back to a nearly complete workforce.
“I think overall for St. Luke’s entirely, we’re somewhere north of 80% of employees have gotten the vaccine. I can’t tell you exact numbers on the first or second or shot but most at this point have gotten their second shot,” said Dr. Kern.
With the daily workload back to a more normal pace, St. Luke's Magic Valley staff is playing catch up.
“We’ve recovered some of the backlog and some of the elective surgical cases that we had to put off when things were so busy back during the peak,” Dr. Kern said.
Officials from both the Health District and St. Luke's want people to remain vigilant in taking safety protocols to help continue the downward trend and keep hospitals open to everyone.
“COVID or not, we all need to have access to emergency care so that if we do have something like, somebody goes into labor, somebody breaks an arm, somebody has an accident with machinery, something like that, those everyday things that we deal with in and outside of a pandemic, that those people have access to the emergency care that they need,” said Bodily.