Health officials give update on COVID-19 in Idaho

Posted at 4:54 PM, Sep 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-21 18:57:28-04

The State of Idaho continues to set new records each week for the number of patients hospitalized, in the ICU or on a ventilator because of COVID-19.

The state's top health leaders held their weekly COVID-19 press briefing today and expect those numbers to continue to rise.

More than 650 Idahoans are currently hospitalized because of COVID-19. St. Luke's says 98% of those in their ICU are unvaccinated.

The health system has already seen 80 deaths so far this month, 12 of which were patients under 50 years old. St. Luke's health officials emphasize the virus isn't just 'life or death.’

Those who end up in the ICU still have a chance to survive but could face a life of hardships in the future.

"For those who go to the ICU and survive, they will be terribly disabled for at least a short period of time, and I'm talking months. Sometimes that will be permanent. You cannot spend four weeks on mechanical ventilation, paralyzed and sedated, and stand up and walk away," Chief Physician Executive Dr. Jim Souza said.

As we've previously reported, hospitals across the state are operating under Crisis Standards of Care, which impacts all Idahoans, not just COVID-19 patients. People may see much longer wait times than usual or may not be able to receive routine care.

Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen shared how the policy impacted him personally last week.

Dave Jeppesen

His mother suffered a stroke the same day Crisis Standards of Care was put into place, so instead of spending the night at the hospital, she was sent home the same day, Leaving the burden of around-the-clock care on close family members.

"There was added worry about the availability of health care when she went to the ER. Things were different when she went to the ER. There were other patients receiving care in the waiting room,” Jeppesen said. “We are so lucky to have such talented health care professionals in Idaho. Those same dedicated health care professionals across the state need our help."

Health officials also addressed the rumor circulating on social media claiming there was a “universal do not resuscitate order” due to Crisis Standards of Care. Department of health and welfare emphasized this is not true and healthcare workers will not just let someone die. They will do what they can to save patients.